The jungles of the Peten are hot and sweaty. Most of the best places for archeology are. Field seasons are especially hot, since they are always during the driest time of year so that the site doesn’t get flooded. Howler monkeys boom from the parched trees, which barely twitch during the windless days. Meanwhile, pasty grad students toil away in the hot sun, quietly picking away at a stucco relief or the markings on a stone pillar.
In this heat, it’s good to wear a hat, preferably something sturdy with a wide brim. Every archeology site in the world is littered with rugged people in wide-brimmed hats talking about long dead civilizations. Tulane archeologist Marcello Canuto, for instance, prefers the khaki, floppy variety. Walking back to camp with after a long day at one Northern Guatemalan site, I can’t help but make the obvious comparison.
“Oh God,” he groans, “Don’t even go there. Indiana Jones is not an archeologist.” Read more.
Drilling crews are eager to plunge their equipment into the ground. Road builders are ready to start highway projects, and construction workers need to dig.
But across the hyperactive oil fields of North Dakota, these and other groups often must wait for another team known for slow, meticulous study – archaeologists, whose job is to survey the land before a single spade of dirt can be turned.
The routine surveys have produced a rare jobs bonanza in American archeology, a field in which many highly educated professionals hop from project to project around the world and still struggle to make a living. The positions also come with a constant tension: The archaeologists are trained to find evidence of the past, but the companies that pay them would prefer not to turn up anything that gets in the way of profits. Read more.
Some of the archaeologists currently working at excavation sites around Turkey are not taking their job seriously enough, Tourism and Culture Minister Ömer Çelik has said, according to daily Hürriyet.
Çelik made the comments in an interview with Der Spiegel Magazine at the Berlin International Tourism Bourse, a well-known travel trade fair.
German archeologists have been overseeing excavations at Göbekli Tepe, he said, adding that a total of 11,000 sculptures went missing from the site in 2010. “I am not accusing them of stealing, however, this is evidence that they are not giving sufficient importance to security issues.” Read more.
CAIRO - The keeper of Egypt’s archaeological treasures sees hope for the nation’s future in its pharaonic past.
Mohammed Ibrahim, head of the antiquities ministry, likens Egypt’s turbulent emergence from autocracy to the periods of decline that afflicted the nation on the Nile between the fall and rise of its three ancient kingdoms.
"We have passed through similar periods like that, even in antiquity," said Ibrahim, custodian of the pyramids, tombs and temples that bare witness to one of the world’s oldest civilizations. "Every time Egypt passes through this period, it recovers very quickly, very strongly." Read more.
Geneticists, archaeologists and historians are joining forces to investigate the history of transatlantic slavery, in a €4.3-million (US$5.8-million) project launched today. The researchers say that the project is a unique opportunity to improve our knowledge of the slave trade, but warn that some of their results might be “uncomfortable”.
Between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, millions of people from west and central Africa were captured and shipped across the Atlantic by European slave traders to a life of forced labour in the Americas. The subject has been well studied by historians, but one of the coordinators of the project, geneticist Hannes Schroeder of the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, says that there are still “large gaps in our knowledge” regarding the origins of the people captured as slaves, for instance, and how the slave trade operated.
The historical records are fragmentary,” he says. “For example, they tend to mention just the port of export, rather than the ethnic or geographical origin of the person. The idea is that by bringing in genetics, we get a different view.” Read more.
INDIANA Jones-types from around the country whip-cracked their way to Toowoomba today for the 2011 Australian Archaeology Association National Conference.
More than 350 of Australia’s most respected archaeologists will attend the three-day forum, held at USQ and the Empire Theatre.
"We’ll be discussing ground breaking issues like contemporary politics of archaeology, the place of indigenous perspectives in archaeological interpretation and the role of the public and the media in archaeology," School of Humanities and Communication head Professor Bryce Barker said.
The conference features a “Meet the Graduates” evening where representatives from 30 companies will discuss employment opportunities with students.
"Archaeology graduates have a very high rate of employment in the cultural heritage industry in Australia and demand has increased even more over recent years because of the mining boom," Prof Barker said. (source)
LEADING figures from across the city have paid tributes to Dr Richard Hall, the world-renowned York archaeologist, who has died at the age of 62.
Dr Hall joined York Archaeological Trust in 1974 eventually holding the position of Director of Archaeology and Deputy Director of the Trust, and was pivotal in the discovery of well-preserved Viking Age houses, textiles, and other artefacts while directing the Coppergate dig between 1976 and 1981.
He was regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on the Viking age.
Through these excavations and his interpretation of findings at the Jorvik Viking Centre in Coppergate, Dr Hall helped millions of people enjoy archaeology and history in an accessible format, and his knowledge and understanding of Viking Age archaeology and culture contributed hugely to the success of the tourist attraction.
Hugh Bayley, York Central MP, said he was “deeply saddened” by the loss of Dr Hall, who he said would be “remembered for centuries”. Read more.
The state has been ordered to release records to The Salt Lake Tribune about the controversial firing of its archaeologists.
On Thursday, the State Records Committee ruled that the state Department of Community and Culture must provide records of communications about the discontinued positions of the state archaeologist, the archaeologist’s assistant and a physical anthropologist.
Tribune reporter Judy Fahys asked for those records shortly after the three employees were fired in June, but the department claimed her request was too vague to fulfill.
"The original request was very broad and undefined," said assistant Attorney General Kathy Kinsman, who represented the department at Thursday’s hearing.
The department records officer, Jane Van Wagoner, testified that Fahys’ request would require staff to search 200 separate email accounts used by employees in the department.
But committee member and state archivist Patricia Smith-Mansfield testified such a search was feasible and wouldn’t require searches of all 200 email accounts. Read more.