OLYMPIA — It is a Spartan setting, the lab where 120 cardboard filing boxes — each with human bones in them, many of them old Native American bones — fill the eight large metal lockers along the walls.
They are awaiting reburial, back to the land where they had spent all those years undisturbed.
In this rather worn building, one of those concrete government places waiting to be torn down, Guy Tasa is at work.
He is the state’s physical anthropologist, a job created in 2008 when the Legislature passed laws concerning the inadvertent discovery of human remains.
He says about the bones in all those boxes: “They represent the remains of somebody who’s come before us hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago. And they deserve all of the respect and treatment we give anybody today.” Read more.
In his climate-controlled “cemetery,” University of Colorado anthropologist Dennis Van Gerven preserves roughly 420 ancient Nubian mummies that provide clues about life and death in 600 A.D. Leading up to one of his public talks, he picked up the jaw of one of the mummies, ran his finger over it and explained that the Sahara desert’s sand persistently mixed with the ancient people’s food, grinding down their teeth. The jaw line of another mummy — a baby with curly, amber hair — hints that it was of teething age at the time of its death. Van Gerven said diarrhea and parasitic infections often led to high infant mortality rates among this ancient population, as they do today among babies in developing countries. On Thursday, Van Gerven will bring a couple of mummies from his collection to the Longmont Senior Center for a public talk. The talk, “Life and Death in Nubia: Tales from the Crypt,” will begin at 7 p.m. Read more.
In his climate-controlled “cemetery,” University of Colorado anthropologist Dennis Van Gerven preserves roughly 420 ancient Nubian mummies that provide clues about life and death in 600 A.D.
Leading up to one of his public talks, he picked up the jaw of one of the mummies, ran his finger over it and explained that the Sahara desert’s sand persistently mixed with the ancient people’s food, grinding down their teeth.
The jaw line of another mummy — a baby with curly, amber hair — hints that it was of teething age at the time of its death. Van Gerven said diarrhea and parasitic infections often led to high infant mortality rates among this ancient population, as they do today among babies in developing countries.
On Thursday, Van Gerven will bring a couple of mummies from his collection to the Longmont Senior Center for a public talk. The talk, “Life and Death in Nubia: Tales from the Crypt,” will begin at 7 p.m. Read more.
A project to preserve languages threatened with extinction will include the Mescalero Apache dialect.
The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a $321,200 grant through the agency’s Documenting Endangered Languages program.
Experts estimate that more than half of the approximately 7,000 currently used languages are destined for oblivion in this century. The window of opportunity for high-quality language documentation, the experts said, narrows with each passing year.
The grant will allow New Mexico State University linguistic anthropologist Scott Rushforth and the Mescalero Apache Tribe develop a dictionary and grammar of Mescalero Apache, an Athabaskan language spoken in southern New Mexico. The National Endowment for the Humanities reported that there are fewer than 900 remaining speakers of the language. The project will analyze the complex structure of verbs of Mescalero Apache and contribute to the phonetics and sound of the entire Athabaskan language family. Read more.
State experts have identified the remains of at least seven more Native Americans under SE Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor.
Allyson Brooks, director for the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, confirmed late Thursday that the remains were discovered over the past two days by members of the city’s hired archaeological firm.
A physical anthropologist from the state office has since examined the remains and determined they are both human and Native American in origin. The discovery brings the total number of individuals found to 11.
"I would say it’s becoming more and more obvious, based on the evidence before us, that this was a well used burial area," Brooks said.
The bones of four individuals were found under the same section of roadway in June. The discovery resulted in the shutdown of the city’s downtown redevelopment road project for about six weeks. Read more.
An anthropologist has found what she believes are stone tools in a street excavation in downtown Sitka.
The finds – if they are confirmed – could help shed light on Paleolithic humans who either lived in, or passed through, the region.
First, let’s make clear that this is not an epic story about archaeology. This is about a couple of rocks that you or I – or anyone who didn’t know what to look for – would have walked right by, or maybe even have skipped into the ocean.
“It’s a simple tool where you have a certain kind of rock, and you drop that rock on another rock and a flake comes off. And if it’s nice and sharp along there you’ll use it for a while. You grip it like that – use it as a skin scraper, or for whatever you’re scraping. Then, when it gets worn out, you throw it away,” says Nancy Yaw Davis, an anthropologist by trade, and an archaeologist by coincidence. Read more.
ENAISEH, Lebanon: Parts of a Byzantine church at the top of Jabal al-Kenaiseh were destroyed by treasure hunters, according to anthropologist Chamoun Mouannes, who lamented the attack and called on officials to protect the country’s archeological sites.
“We often cross rough roads in Lebanon, and we were very surprised when we saw a historical site at 2,100 meters above sea level, a temple dating to Roman times, with large parts of it destroyed and tampered with in search of treasures,” said Mouannes, who heads the hiking group, Club of the Hidden Roads and Foot Trails of Lebanon.
The structure witnessed a succession of peoples belonging to different historical eras before it was transformed into a Byzantine church, Mouannes said, affirming that the mountain, which stretches between the two villages of Falougha and Kfar Salwan, was named Al-Kenaiseh (church) after the structure.
Mouannes was surprised that those responsible for damaging the temple were able to reach the site. Read more.
The Barton County Sheriff’s Office says a partial human skull found in December is that of an American Indian male who probably died before 1900. The Great Bend Tribune reports a forensic anthropologist in Manhattan determined the remains were those of a man 35 to 45 years old, if not older.
Undersheriff Larry Holliday says the report didn’t pinpoint the period in which the man lived, but there was no modern dental work. The skull was found December 26 by duck hunters. It was missing the lower jaw and had only three teeth in the upper jaw. The Sheriff’s Office says the skull will be sent to the Kansas State Historical Society’s Unmarked Burial Sites Board. (source)
Major funding is needed for a scientific excavation using modern techniques at site discovered in 1913
Vero Beach may be home to one of the most significant archeological sites in North America if it can be determined that mammals and humans existed together there at the same time some 12,000 to 14,000 years ago or more.
While there is strong evidence that they did, a major scientific excavation using modern analysis techniques is needed. Funds for such an undertaking, however, have been as elusive as definitive confirmation of the site’s unique finds.
Archeologists and anthropologists worldwide are familiar with the original 1913 discoveries of fossilized bones found during a dredging project by the Indian River Farms Co. at a canal near what today is the Vero Beach Airport.
Among the bones unearthed were those of extinct mammoths, sloths, tigers, mastodons and a species of tapir from the late period of the ice age. Human bones also were found, and it is that discovery that created controversy at the time. The Florida state geologist, Elias Sellards, dated the bones, which became known as the Vero Man, at more than 10,000 years old. Only one other site in North America had bones been discovered of extinct mammals and humans together. Sellards’ theory was contradicted, though, by Ales Hrdicka of the Smithsonian Institutional National Museum of Natural History, who believed the bones of the mammals and humans had been mixed together at some point and that they had not existed at the same time, with the human bones being much younger. Read more.