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March 23, 2014

The Remarkable Coin Cache

My wife and I were heading to Southern Utah for a teaching conference. It was June 4th and school had just let out for the summer the day before. Both of us are Middle School Science teachers so this was our first vacation for the summer. When we… More
March 07, 2014

Shamanic figurine guarding shaft tomb discovered in Colima

A shaft tomb containing skeletal remains along with a rich assemblage of grave goods, has been discovered in a later cemetery in the state of Colima, Mexico by researchers at the National Institute of Anthropology and History Archaeologist Marco… More
February 11, 2014

Filmmakers search for Montezuma's treasure in Kanab pond

KANAB, Kane County – For 100 years, locals have believed Montezuma’s treasure lies at the end of a tunnel below Three Lakes pond in Kanab, Utah. Now, filmmakers hope to discover just what is there. Producer Mike Wiest along with landowner Lon Child… More
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 19:16

Americas’ Natives have European Roots

The oldest known genome of a modern human solves long-standing puzzles about the New World's genetic heritage.

The 24,000-year-old remains of a young boy from the Siberian village of Mal’ta have added a new root to the family tree of indigenous Americans. While some of the New World's native ancestry clearly traces back to east Asia, the Mal’ta boy’s genome — the oldest known of any modern human — shows that up to one-third of that ancestry can be traced back to Europe.

The results show that people related to western Eurasians had spread further east than anyone had suspected, and lived in Siberia during the coldest parts of the last Ice Age.

“At some point in the past, a branch of east Asians and a branch of western Eurasians met each other and had sex a lot,” says palaeogeneticist Eske Willerslev at the University of Copenhagen, who led the sequencing of the boy’s genome. This mixing, he says, created Native Americans — in the sense of the populations of both North and South America that predated — as we know them. His team's results are published today in Nature1.

In 2009, Willerslev’s team travelled to Hermitage State Museum in St. Petersburg, where it had arranged to collect a DNA sample from one of the Mal’ta boy’s arm bones. “We hoped that he could tell us something about the early peopling of the Americas, but it was a complete long shot,” he says.

The team found that DNA from the boy's mitochondria — the energy-processing organelles of living cells — belonged to a lineage called haplogroup U, which is found in Europe and west Asia but not in east Asia, where his body was unearthed. The result was so bizarre that Willerslev assumed that his sample had been contaminated with other genetic material, and put the project on hold for a year.

Ancient ancestry

But the boy’s nuclear DNA — the bulk of his genome — told the same story. “Genetically, this individual had no east Asian resemblance but looked like Europeans and people from west Asia,” says Willerslev. “But the thing that was really mind-blowing was that there were signatures you only see in today’s Native Americans.” This signal is consistent among peoples from across the Americas, implying that it could not have come from European settlers who arrived after Christopher Columbus. Instead, it must reflect an ancient ancestry.

The Mal’ta boy’s genome showed that Native Americans can trace 14% to 38% of their ancestry back to western Eurasia, the authors conclude.

“The distribution of genetic lineages 24,000 years ago must have been quite different from what we see today,” says Jennifer Raff, an anthropologist and geneticist from the University of Texas at Austin. “It would be very interesting to see what other genomes from this time period look like.”

Willerslev’s team suggests that after the ancestors of Native Americans split off from those of east Asians, they moved north. Somewhere in Siberia, they met another group of people coming east from western Eurasia — the people to whom the Mal’ta boy belonged. The two groups mingled, and their descendants eventually travelled east into North America.

New origins

“We already had strong evidence of Siberian ancestry for Native Americans; this study is important because it helps us understand who the ancestors of those Siberians might have been,” says Raff.

This new origin story helps to resolve several peculiarities in New World archaeology. For example, ancient skulls found in both North and South America have features that do not resemble those of East Asians. They also carry the mitochondrial haplogroup X, which is related to western Eurasian lineages but not to east Asian ones.

On the basis of these features, some scientists have suggested that Native Americans descended from Europeans who sailed west across the Atlantic. However, says Willerslev, “you don’t need a hypothesis that extreme”. These features make sense when you consider that Native Americans have some western Eurasian roots.

“There remains some debate about whether there was a single expansion of human groups into the Americas or more than one,” says Theodore Schurr, an anthropologist from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “The data from this paper support a single-migration scenario,” he says, but still allows for several sequential ones from the same intermingled Siberian gene pool.


 

Published in News

In what has been described as an “amazing coincidence”, a viking runestone with a religious inscription has been discovered on a farm owned by archaeologist Dr Sarah Jane Gibbon, an expert on Norse church history.

Found by Dr Gibbon’s father, Donnie Grieve, a retired teacher from Harray, the runes on the broken stone are a 19-character Latin passage of part the Lord’s Prayer — “who art in heaven hallowed”.

Measuring approximately 8cm by 24cm, it was discovered by Mr Grieve at Naversdale farm in Orphir while he was gathering building stone from a field on September 26.

He said: “I recognised it right away as being runes. It’s very recognisable and very clear.

“It’s unusual, because it’s a Latin inscription — part of the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t think there’s any record of any inscription like that in Orkney or Shetland, so it’s unusual.

“There are plenty of runes, but they are mostly viking graffiti. This is something a bit different.”

Mr Grieve said that since the find he has been looking out for the remaining parts of the stone.

“When looking for other stone, I’ve been keeping my eye open for the other piece, but I think there’s little likelihood of it turning up,” he said.

“It could have come from anywhere, and it’s probably long separated from the other half.”

Dr Gibbon said: “Dad’s discovery of the runestone is really exciting and, as far as I know, a first for Orkney. I couldn’t believe it when I first saw the stone. We have sent photographs to Professor Michael Barnes, expert on Orkney runic inscriptions, and I am looking forward very much to hearing what he has to say about the find.

“I am hoping he will be able to shed light on the date of the inscription so that we can begin to put it in its proper local and wider ecclesiastical contexts.”

Dr Gibbon said it was not known how or when the runestone came to Naversdale, but there were a number of possible scenarios.

“Was the inscription carved on a stone in a medieval structure on the farm, or was it brought here at a later date from somewhere else, perhaps from elsewhere on the Swanbister Estate?” she said.

“It would be fascinating to find out more about the history of our farm and the buildings on it, and we would be delighted to hear from anyone with information.”

Dr Gibbon added: “I am looking forward to discovering as much as I can about the runestone, especially as the preliminary findings indicate it is from a medieval Christian context, which is my main area of interest. The fact it was found where I live, by my dad, just makes this even more fascinating.”

Julie Gibson, Orkney county archaeologist, said: “The stone is a very beautiful one, each character evenly placed. I love that it is a religious inscription, and what an amazing coincidence that it should turn up at Dr Gibbon’s house.

“We are so lucky Sarah Jane’s father found it, and that  Sarah Jane could recognise its value right away.”

Mrs Gibson added that photos of the stone were sent to Terje Spurkland and Professor Michael Barnes, at Oslo University, where a year long runology project is under way.

“Terje confirmed suspicions that the runes represented slightly corrupted Latin, and he translated them as meaning ‘who art in heaven hallowed’,” she said.

The stone is currently with the Orkney College archaeology department, but it is hoped it will soon be on display at the Orkney Museum.

 

Published in News

The remains of houses, bits of charcoal, and rarely seen types of pottery are tantalizing new clues in one of the more persistent mysteries of Southwestern history: What happened to the culture known as the Hohokam?

Best known for their hulking adobe complexes, like the ruins now called Casa Grande, the Hohokam were one of the Southwest’s most complex and influential societies, constructing irrigation canals that turned parts of the Sonoran Desert into farmland, and trading with distant Mesoamerican cultures whose influence can still be seen in Hohokam ball courts.

By the late 1300s, the Hohokam were perhaps the most populous cultural group in the Southwest. But around this time, something triggered their precipitous decline.

While the cause — or, more likely, series of causes — remains poorly understood, Dr. Deni Seymour says she has turned up an important clue: Despite what most scientists have believed for decades, the Hohokam were not alone.

Years of research in southeastern Arizona, the heart of the Hohokam homeland, have turned up what Seymour calls “abundant evidence” that another tribal group — the O’odham, whose members still call Arizona home today — lived in the region perhaps as early as the 1100s.

This flies in the face of scientific convention, which has held that the region was essentially vacant between the fall of the Hohokam in the late 1300s and the arrival of the first Spanish missionaries in the mid-1500s.

“Some of the big questions scholars have been asking for a very long time are: What happened to the Hohokam? Is there a relationship between the Hohokam and the O’odham? In other words, did the Hohokam become the O’odham?” said Seymour, an archaeologist with the Jornada Research Institute in New Mexico, and a specialist in early O’odham and Apache cultures.

“Until now we have not had enough information on the O’odham — historically, the Upper Pima — to address this question from an archaeological standpoint. Now we do.”

In a paper recently published in the Old Pueblo Archaeology Bulletin, Seymour describes her investigations of sites inhabited by a people known as the Sobaípuri, a branch of the O’odham whose descendants are now part of the Tohono O’odham.

Their traces are found mostly along the San Pedro, Santa Cruz, and Gila rivers in southeastern Arizona, where the Sobaípuri irrigated crops and constructed settlements in rows of elongated houses.

Some of the sites had been excavated before, in the 1950s and ’60s, revealing evidence of the Sobaípuri’s signature oblong building style and plainware pottery. But, using ethnographic accounts, historical records, and the dating technology available at the time, most experts estimated that the Sobaípuri lived in Arizona no earlier than the 1540s, around the time that the Spanish arrived.

For her research, however, Seymour turned to new methods. One of them, called thermoluminescence, can pinpoint the last time a material was heated to a certain temperature; another, optically stimulated luminescence, can isolate when particles like quartz or feldspar were last exposed to light.

Together these technologies can help date objects like cooking pits, identify when pottery was fired, and determine how long some sediments have been buried.

Using this suite of techniques and radiocarbon dating, Seymour said, the more samples she looked at, the more “unusual and unexpected” the results became.



 

Published in News
Monday, 11 November 2013 15:26

Ancient Naval Battle rises above the Waves

The year was 241BC and on the 10th of March a massive naval battle took place off the coast of Sicily between the Romans and Carthaginians. The defeat of the Carthaginians brought about an end to the First Punic War and set the Roman Republic on its militaristic path to establishing an Empire.

The Battle of the Egadi Islands is the first ancient naval battle site ever to discovered in its entirety and is now being surveyed in minute detail.

Directed by the Soprintendenza del Mare and RPM Nautical Foundation, the Egadi Island Survey was established nearly 10 years ago. The team have been joined by the University of Nottingham’s underwater archaeologist Dr Jon Henderson who is using some of the latest techniques to help survey and map the battle site.

 

 

The relics of a decisive battle

The teams are carefully surveying an area which currently stands at some five square kilometres, trying to locate and piece together the various artefacts that lie scattered on the seabed at depths of between 40 to 120 metres. Bronze helmets, amphora, weapons and most importantly ancient bronze battle rams are being recorded, lifted from the seabed and preserved.

Dr Henderson said: “It is quite surprising that despite all the literary references and the importance of naval battles and sea power in the ancient world we have never found a battle site before. What makes this project so exciting is that this was an important engagement between the Romans and the Carthaginians which ultimately provided the Romans with a springboard to go on and take over the whole of the Mediterranean.”

 

Hypothesis becomes theory

Historical documents placed the battle near the island of Levanzo, west of Sicily. According to the literature the battle was a brief but deadly few hours long. The Romans lay in wait trapping the Carthaginians and blocking off their sea route in a sudden attack.

Previous attempts to find the exact location had been focused in shallow water close to the island. But stories told by old Sicilian divers that lines of ancient lead anchors were lying on the seabed, off the Egadi Islands to the west of Trapani off Sicily’s northwest coast, guided Sebastiano Tusa and Soprintendenza del Mare, to the real location of the battle site.

Professor Tusa said: “The stories these divers told led me to speculate where this battle might have taken place. To prove my hypothesis I carried out a series of dives and discovered 50 anchors. Local fishermen brought up a bronze helmet from the same area and together with the discovery of the first ram my hypothesis became theory. Now, working with RPM Nautical Foundation we have discovered 11 rams.”

 

Making the pieces fit

The research vessel ‘Hercules’ bristles with some of the very latest underwater survey technology. An ongoing multi-beam survey together with remotely operated vehicle (ROV) verification is producing an accurate map of the undersea geography of the site as well as an astonishing array of shipwrecks, weapons, armour and helmets. But most exciting of all is the growing collection of ancient battle rams of which there were only three in the world before this survey began.

Dr Jeffrey Royal said: “Much of what we knew about ancient naval battles and ancient warships was based on historical text and iconography. We now have physical archaeological data which will significantly change our understanding. Cast on the bow of the ship these rams were not just used as weapons, they were there to protect the ship. The discovery of these rams will help us learn more about the size of these ships, the way they were built, what materials were used as well as the economics of building a navy and the cost of losing a battle.”

New technology is mapping the seabed

Dr Henderson is using sector-scanner technology developed for the marine offshore industry to map the site in even more detail. It was tested out in shallow water during his work on Pavlopetri — the world’s oldest known underwater city. It is now proving its worth in much deeper waters. The technology he has introduced to the world of underwater archaeology will survey an area of up to 50 to 60 metres across in minute detail and produce plans which can been drawn for archaeological purposes.

He said: “The sector scan produces a geometrically accurate plan of the seabed in matter of minutes. To fully understand the remains on the seabed and ultimately reconstruct the actual battle itself it is vital that we record the exact positions of the wreckage. I think this technology has the potential to transform the way underwater sites are surveyed in the future.”

Analysing the artefacts

With funding from the Honor Frost Foundation  — some of the artefacts brought to the surface inside the amphora are now under analysis at the University of Nottingham. Analysis has shown these materials are of ancient manufacture and could tell the team a lot about what was onboard these ancient warships.

Dr Henderson said: “For the first time archaeologists have recovered finds in context from the site of an ancient naval battle. We can now begin to say something about the fittings and equipment present on ancient warships and indeed what would have been taken into battle. It’s exciting because we now have archaeological data to add to interpretations which were wholly based on iconographic representations and the ancient literary accounts.”

The area is so rich in archaeological data that the survey team believe it could take decades to fully survey and analyse the data from this site.

Rise of the Republic

When Rome won the First Punic War after 23 years of conflict it became the dominant naval power of the Mediterranean after learning quickly the importance of naval power (the war had seen the Roman fleets learn quickly from disasters to rebuild and return to the sea).  Both states were financially exhausted and Corsica, Sardinia and Africa remained Carthaginian, but they had to pay a high war indemnity.

Rome’s victory was one of stubborn persistence and the Republic’s ability to attract private investments in the war effort to fund ships and crews was one of the deciding factors, particularly when contrasted with the Carthaginian nobility’s apparent unwillingness to risk their fortunes for the common war effort.

This battle saw half of the Carthaginian fleet destroyed or captured and each new find provides further clues about this pivotal moment in the history towards Roman dominance in the Mediterranean.

Source:

University of Nottingham


 

Published in News

Viking graves in Norway contain a grisly tribute: slaves who were beheaded and buried along with their masters, new research suggests.

In Flakstad, Norway, remains from 10 ancient people were buried in multiple graves, with two to three bodies in some graves and some bodies decapitated. Now, an analysis reveals the beheaded victims ate a very different diet from the people with whom they were buried.

"We propose that the people buried in double and triple burials might have come from very different strata of society, and that slaves could have been offered as grave gifts in these burials," study co-author Elise Naumann, an archaeologist at the University of Oslo in Norway, wrote in an email.

Viking age

From about the 790s until about A.D. 1100, the Vikings were fierce, sea-faring raiders and often took slaves as booty. But this vicious lifestyle wasn't a full-time job. In everyday life, many Vikings were actually farmers, relying on slaves, or thralls, for agricultural work. Though some thralls were treated well, many were forced to endure backbreaking physical labor, Naumann said. Women were often used as sex slaves, and any children who resulted could either be considered the master's children or treated as slaves themselves. [Fierce Fighters: 7 Secrets of Viking Seamen]

The Viking burials were first discovered in the early 1980s, but only partially excavated at the time. The ancient graves were partly damaged by modern farming and contained just a few grave artifacts, such as an amber bead, some animal bones and a few knives. At the time, archaeologists noticed that four of the bodies were beheaded whereas the rest were intact.

That led many to conclude that the decapitated bodies were those of slaves sacrificed and buried with their masters.

Different classes

To bolster that notion, Naumann and her colleagues analyzed the skeletons' mitochondrial DNA, which is passed on through the maternal line. The team found that bodies buried together were most likely not related, at least on the maternal side.

Next, they analyzed the ratio of carbon and nitrogen isotopes, or elements with different molecular weights, in the bones of the ancient Scandinavians.

Because food that comes from the sea or the land contains different proportions of heavy and light isotopes of carbon and nitrogen, the concentration of these chemicals in bones can reveal the dietary history of a people.

Results showed the beheaded people ate more fish protein, whereas the others ate land-based protein sources, such as meat and dairy products. That suggests the people buried together came from very different strata of society.

Grave gifts

Naumann proposes the beheaded victims were slaves who were sacrificed as gifts to be offered in death on behalf of their masters. Though such human sacrifice was uncommon in Viking society, it wasn't unknown.

"There are other examples of sacrifice in burials, where individuals had tied hands and feet and were sometimes beheaded, or in other ways treated in ways that indicates sacrifice," Naumann said. "It is assumed that such persons were grave gifts, and would follow their masters in death. One historical account from Ibn Fadlan (an Arab traveler who chronicled his journeys) describes how a slave woman volunteered to follow her master — a Viking chieftain — in the grave."

The find will be detailed in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

 

Published in News

Peru’s Ministry of Culture looks like a cross between a Soviet-era high-rise and an Incan fortress. And, in a tiny office on an upper floor, historian Blanca Alva is rushing through a pile of work.

Alva is in her 50s, and typically wears colorful knit cardigans. She has been deaf since childhood, and communicates by speaking and reading lips. Alva is the key person in charge of defending Peru’s “cultural patrimony,” and it’s a pretty crazy job. 

Peru's economy is exploding, and so is the real estate market here. In the capital, Lima, housing has gotten so tight that it's spilled over into some of the country's archaeological sites. Those sites are supposed to be protected, but land traffickers have been selling fake titles, leading people to build homes and even entire neighborhoods on top of important ruins.

Blanca Alva tells a story of how, a few years ago, she had to spend the holidays keeping thousands of people from moving into an archaeological site.

“The squatters closed the highway,” she says. “They threw rocks and launched Molotov cocktails at us. But with the help of police, we were able to carry out the eviction — and that was how I spent Christmas.”

Alva says she’s constantly running up against the limits of her job. For one thing, she heads a team of just four people, including her, and Lima alone has more than 400 ruins.

The Peruvian legal system doesn’t help, either.

“The problem with Peruvian law is that you have to evict people in the first 24 hours. Once the 24 hours are up, you can’t evict; you have to take it to court.”

And in court, it can take years to move people, if it happens at all. Take a site called Necrópolis Miramar, where people have been living for almost 10 years. It’s a dry, windy plain next to a highway, in the seaside district of Ancón. There are about 200 small houses, clustered together, and a lot of trash — broken concrete blocks, diapers, boxers, pantyhose.
There are only a few small signs telling people that it’s a burial site, and at first glance, it doesn’t seem anything special. That was what 24-year-old Flor Gomez thought, when she bought a plot here. The deed later turned out to be a fake, and the site, an important ruin.

“I didn’t know the ruins were right here,” says Gomez. “I said, okay, it must be somewhere nearby. And when I was told that this is Necrópolis Miramar, I started to do research, and that was when I saw the maps, that all of this is part of the archaeological site” — including the ground under the converted shed where Gomez lives with her mother.

Gomez, who herself studies history, says she was shocked to learn she was living atop a pre-Hispanic cemetery.

And local officials do little to keep more people from moving in. Jorge Arellanos is a municipal employee in charge of sites like Necrópolis Miramar. On a recent visit to the site, he conceded that it was his first time at the ruins. And he refused to go near Gomez, or any of the homes.

“It’s a security issue,” he said. “People always get defensive, since they think we want to kick them out. Culturally, we should do it. But, legally, they know that we don’t control that area, and that we can’t do it.”

Lack of cooperation from local governments and police, says Blanca Alva, makes it hard for her team to protect sites.

“We’re like firefighters, and we don’t have the resources or the people. An archaeologist calls and says, come quickly, they’re destroying an ancient wall, and it takes us two hours to get there. By the time we do, it’s been destroyed.”

As housing prices in Lima increase, so do takeovers of important ruins. Alva says in the first half of this year alone, there were 71 takeovers.

“The land traffickers are very enterprising. They advance every day, four or five more houses. And they know that I can’t be there every day.”

But that doesn’t stop her from trying.

 

Published in News

The Pyramids of Zuleta are one of the hidden treasures of the Andes. Built around 1,000 years ago, by the native Caranqui people, these earthen mounds and platform pyramids dominate the landscape near Hacienda Zuleta in the mountains of northern Ecuador and 110 kilometres north of Quito.

Unlike much of our planet, high resolution aerial imagery and digital elevation models are unavailable for this part of the world. This is due to the fog that often blankets the area and the agrarian nature of the region. As a part of a team of archaeologists who visited the site in August 2013, we aimed to change that.

A challenging task

Using a small, hand-launched, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV aka drone) equipped with a downward facing camera and a sophisticated autopilot system, we documented the site as it has never been seen—from extremely low altitude and at high resolution.  This was a challenging task as most of the pyramids are located in the bottom of a steep constricted canyon inhabited by Andean Condors. To make things more challenging there were high winds, clouds, and quirks of the micro-climates within the canyon to contend with. In spite of that, we were able to fly nine missions and collect hundreds of photographs in just a couple of days.

The UAV flies in a defined pattern and collects photographs. The onboard autopilot insures that each image has 60% or more overlap with adjacent images. These overlapping images allow for the data to be processed into 3D and digital terrain models (DTMs) using photogrammetric and cutting edge Structure from Motion technologies. All of the data are GIS ready. While basic processing allowed us to see the mapped data in the field, it was necessary to further develop it using a high-end processing farm in Maryland, once we were back in the United States.

New discoveries

This approach has already led to the discovery of many more mounds that are not obvious to the naked eye but stand out in the data. Furthermore, it is the first time the detailed spatial relationship between each of the earthen structures can be explored with precision. This data will be used to track the condition of the mounds over time and has created a digital snapshot of their current state for future generations to ponder. This was accomplished with only a few days of fieldwork and under harsh conditions. To create a map of similar accuracy using traditional survey approaches would have taken weeks and lacked the aerial imagery this approach provides.

Our team has conducted similar mapping missions in Australia, Belize, Belgium, Fiji, France, Germany, The Republic of Kiribati, Peru, and South Africa. We look forward to continuing these sorts of projects elsewhere and helping to preserve and understand our past.

The archaeological mapping and processing team included Chet Walker and Mark Willis. The rest of the archaeological team was made up of Steve Athens and David O. Brown. Athens and Brown are experts on the archaeology of the Andes and have worked for decades in the region. We would like to thank Fernando Polanco Plaza, the general manager of Hacienda Zuelta, for his hospitality and dedication to preserving the rich heritage of Ecuador.

 

Published in News

BEAUFORT, N.C. -- The final week of the expedition at the wreck of Blackbeard's flagship,Queen Anne's Revenge (QAR), is pulling out the big guns. Literally. Five cannons, four weighing 2,000 pounds and one nearly 3,000 pounds, will be lifted from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean Monday, Oct. 28, weather permitting. All the cast iron cannons fired six pound cannon balls, and will bring to 20 the cannons raised from the site. This will be the biggest 'catch' of cannons recovered at one time.

"We think the largest of the four cannons may be of Swedish origin since the only other recovered gun this size was made in Sweden," Project Director Billy Ray Morris observes. "We also hope to recover two large concretions each the size of a twin bed. They may contain barrel hoops, cannon balls and other treasures."

Blackbeard is known to have gathered a hodge-podge of cannons from different countries as he equipped his vessel with 40 guns. To date, 29 guns have been located at the shipwreck site near Beaufort. The research team, led by the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, has recovered artifacts from 60 percent of the site, including cannons, anchors, gold dust, animal bones, lead shot, medical and scientific instruments, and much more. Altogether about 280,000 artifacts have been recovered. Full recovery is planned by 2014. An extensive Queen Anne's Revenge exhibit is at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

 


Source: Press release of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
 

Published in News

Gunnison’s Tenderfoot Mountain holds an archeological site representing one of the oldest structures ever recorded in North America, and now a Cultural Resource Management Plan will help ensure its protection.
A group that includes representatives from Western State Colorado University, archeologists, local TV and radio stations and telecommunications companies reached an agreement this month to preserve the archeological site while also preserving access for organizations that maintain equipment on the site.

“The significance here is that the site represents one of the oldest structures ever recorded in North America,” Thomas Carr, staff archeologist in the Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation with History Colorado, said.

Archeologists, led by Western State Colorado University professor Dr. Mark Stiger, have uncovered the remains of eight structures buried just beneath the surface of Tenderfoot Mountain’s summit.

“Sites like this need to be protected, and they’re not always well understood,” Carr said. Many of the uncovered artifacts were located just centimeters beneath the surface, meaning they are vulnerable to being disturbed or broken. “There’s so much more to learn; only a fraction of it is excavated,” Carr said.

The property, owned by the state of Colorado, managed by Western State Colorado University and closed to the general public, comprises a cultural resource that archeologists refer to as the “Mountaineer Site.” Researchers from Western and elsewhere continue to uncover information and artifacts related to life during the Folsom period at the site.

During the summer, representatives from Western, telecommunications firms, radio stations and the state archeologist met to create a Cultural Resource Management Plan to protect the Mountaineer Site. The plan will restrict access by telecommunications firms to designated roads and parking areas.

Along with Federal Communications Commission and other regulatory agencies, the plan sets guidelines for how to gate roads to the property, how to approve tower construction and maintenance and how the university should lease property for telecommunications and radio towers.

The state approved the plan last week.

“This type of cooperation is commendable and will ensure that Tenderfoot Mountain will continue to be a place of archeological discovery for years to come,” Brad Baba, Western State Colorado University interim president, said.

“The Cultural Resource Management Plan is a great example of best practices for maintaining sites of historic cultural importance,” Carr said

Western State Colorado University provides scheduled tours of the site during the summer months. For information on upcoming opportunities to visit the Mountaineer Site, look for announcements on western.edu.


 

Published in News
Friday, 25 October 2013 18:32

Two Wari Mummies Found Near Lima

An archaeological site in the midst of Peru's bustling capital has yielded yet another pre-Incan prize, an undisturbed Wari tomb containing two corpses wrapped in ceremonial fabric, archeologists said on Thursday.

The tomb, estimated to be more than 1,000 years old, was found at the Pucllana archaeological site in Lima. It contained the bodies of an adult and an infant, along with nearly 10 intact artifacts.

The adult was likely a master weaver, said Isabel Flores, an archaeologist at Pucllana. The infant, she added, was probably killed and buried in the tomb as an offering in the adult's honor.

"When we unwrap the bodies, we will be able to determine the adult's age, position in society and gender," said Flores.

The Wari civilization was active in an area that now contains Lima from approximately 600 to 1000 AD, some 500 years before the Inca empire emerged. Seventy Wari tombs have been unearthed at the Pucllana site, which is nestled in a residential neighborhood in central Lima.

But Flores and Gladys Paz, the head archaeologist of the team that made the discovery, both said that this most recent find is among the site's richest treasures yet.

 

"In terms of big discoveries, this is in the top three," said Paz.

Published in News
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