Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday Archaeology Blogging

Back to the vaults (I'm feeling very lazy today).

Mummy' causing Siberian 'quakes

RESIDENTS of Russia's Altai region say that a 2500-year-old mummy that was dug up 11 years ago is causing earthquakes in this corner of Siberia where shamans are common, and have demanded that it be reburied.

"We must calm people down and bury the Altai Princess," which is being studied by researchers at an institute 600 kilometres away, said Aulkhan Jatkambayev, the administration chief in the area where the mummy was discovered.

After chuckling a wee bit about this particular story, I realized that it does actually touch on a serious archaeological issue - the proper treatment of human remains. Archaeologists have to be aware of local sentiment concerning such finds, and must be willing to accomodate such sentiment. I remember a dig I was on where we found a large pre-Roman chamber tomb, with bodies, and quickly handed the excavation of it over to local archaeologists. It was no big deal, actually, but in some areas, particularly in the new world, archaeologists have not shown proper respect to indigenous human remains, and have alienated the local populations as a result. Anyway, I don't know whether the archaeologists from Novosibirsk were guilty of that in the story above, but they do now have an issue on their hands, and it's one they'll have to deal with if they wish to keep digging in the Altai mountains.
Ok, so I wrote that about two years ago, but I think the principle still stands. I would add only that although it is rather unlikely that the Altai Princess is actually causing earthquakes and bad weather, as far as the archaeologists are concerned, she might as well be. I was also going to sling a picture of the Altay Princess up here just to illustrate who we're talking about, but it is, interestingly, damn near impossible to find one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Another Archaeology Blog

So over the past couple of weeks, a certain amount of our traffic has come from people who have been googling "Tudor-Whelan" and found a link to our, um, uncomplimentary remarks of February 10th (as a matter of fact, for a few glorious days, we were the first link one received when googling "Tudor-Whelan"). However, we are not the only people to have expressed annoyance with Tudor-Whelan Property Holdings; in fact, we're not even the only Canadians. And this has been a very long-winded and incoherent way of saying that we're adding to the list of blogs we like.

And, um, speaking of Tudor-Whelan Property Holdings, it appears that they may be climbing down on the issue of selling the tombstone abroad.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Happy Family Day, Alberta!!

Mother sues courts for $80,000
Files claim over son's elevator death just before two-year statute expires
Tim Lai, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Saturday, February 18, 2006

EDMONTON -- The mother of Kyle Young, who died after falling five floors down an elevator shaft at the Edmonton Law Courts two years ago, has filed an $80,000 lawsuit over his death.

For those of you who don't remember, Kyle Young was the small teenaged boy who, while shackled, handcuffed, and under the control of two trained, adult, jail guards, managed to make his way through a closed elevator door, and down the shaft, with predictably fatal consequences. Somehow, nobody except Kyle Young was ever found to be at fault for this, although the incident did produce one of the most loathsome letters to the editor that I have ever seen. Goddammit, but there are some real fucktards out there.

Anyway, his mother is now attempting to get at least a little bit of something, some acknowledgement that there was wrongdoing, some sort of symbolic victory over a process that has done nothing but treat her with apparently deliberate contempt throughout. We wish her nothing but the best in this, and we'll keep you posted.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ye Gods...

Via Jesus' General and Pam's House Blend:

Frat Accused In Alleged Goat Sex Hazing Incident
Member Says Nobody Would Actually Have Sex With Goat

I'm sure that came as a great comfort to the goat, and I look forward to, oh, about 75% of future hits on this blog coming as a result of people looking up "goat sex" on Google.
Cartoon Stuff

Ah, the sweet sound of an eejit goin' down the tubes...

Italian minister quits over Prophet T-shirt
Last Updated Sat, 18 Feb 2006 11:02:48 EST
CBC News

Italian cabinet minister Roberto Calderoli resigned on Saturday after wearing a T-shirt printed with cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

I wonder if Ezra Levant'll give Calderoli a writing gig at the Sub Standard.

Calderoli, a member of the anti-immigration Northern League party, wore the T-shirt underneath a suit this week. He told the Italian news agency ANSA it was a "personal initiative" that was meant to invite "real dialogue.''

"Real dialogue," huh? Here was Calderoli on the 15th of February, which, for those of you scoring at home, was 72 fucking hours ago!!!

Calderoli also said that, "the time has come to put an end to this story that we need to dialogue with these people as they only want to humiliate us," asking "what have we become, the civilisation of melted butter?"

Apparently a different Roberto Calderoli, or something...

Friday Saturday Archaeology Blogging

Yup, it's that time again! Now, this past week was a big one archaeologically, what with this, and, somewhat less reported but just as important, this. However, my interest was caught specifically by this unrelated item:

U of Minnesota professor investigates ancient battlefield
Andrew Sain Staff

In the year 9 CE, three Roman legions, 15,000 troops in total, were attacked and destroyed by German tribespeople in the Teutoberg Forest. Despite its relatively recent discovery, this battlefield is on its way to becoming the best-researched ancient battle site in the world, according to Peter S. Wells.

The Battle of Teutoburger Wald was one of the great Roman disasters. The Cherusci, one of those ferocious Germanic tribes that were such a bugbear to the Romans, pulled a neat bit of deception and caught an entire Roman army, under the leadership of Publius Quinctilius Varus, completely unawares somewhere around here:

As the above article notes, the result was the deaths of thousands of Roman soldiers, and the humiliating loss of the legionary standards, which were recaptured under later Emperors. The disaster actually, according to some sources, drove the Emperor Augustus mildly insane; he is reported to have spent a good chunk of time after the battle wandering the halls of his palace shouting "Quinctilius Varus, bring back my legions!" In the 19th century, the event became a symbol of German nationalism, and a monument was raised to Arminius, the Cheruscan chieftain who masterminded the victory.

Anyway, it seems that people are now getting down to the serious work of proper archaeological research on the battle. Battlefield archaeology has always been a bit of a tricky business, particularly when dealing with ancient battles; only rarely can the actual events of a battle be recreated (as mentioned in the above article, the victors did tend to clean the place up after the fighting was done). Furthermore, the precise locations of many ancient battles are not known. Some of my own fieldwork (unrelated to the battle) has been done very close to the site of a Hannibalic victory over Rome in 218 B.C. Although the local placenames are full of military imagery (e.g. Ossaia="The Bone Place", Sanguineto="Bloody", Sepoltaglia="Place of Tombs"), nobody actually knows exactly where the fighting took place. Another example is the famous Battle of Mons Graupius, between the Romans and the Caledonii. This location of this fight has been narrowed down to "somewhere in northern Scotland," but beyond that, so little of it is known that some people have questioned whether it happened at all. For this reason, it's always rather fun to see one of the famous battlefields properly identified, and professionally excavated.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday Archaeology Blogging

Will appear tomorrow.

Swedish women shock U.S. in semis
Posted: Feb.17, 2006, 12:52 pm CST; Updated: Feb.17, 2006, 2:21 pm CST

TORINO, Italy (AP) --
Women's Official Full Results
Team 1 2 3 OT SO Total
1 1 0 0 0 2
0 2 0 0 2 3

The U.S. women's hockey team made history Friday night - the wrong kind.

For the first time since international competition in women's hockey began in 1990, the U.S. and Canada won't meet in the championship match - and it's largely because of Kim Martin.

Martin made 37 saves and stopped all four American attempts in a shootout, while Maria Rooth had two regulation scores and the clinching shootout goal in Sweden's 3-2 victory in the semifinals.

Possibly the best thing ever to happen to women's ice hockey, and I honestly don't mean that with any snark towards the U.S. team. I actually feel somewhat gutted for them. However, with the Finns looking competitive, and the Swedes pulling off this monumentally unlikely victory, it appears the sport may be developing nicely at the international level. A lot of Canadians are celebrating as though this result automatically hands them the gold, but don't bet on it just yet...
If You Can Remember Dewey's, You Weren't There

From over at My Blahg, Oi! Thump! gets reminded of halycon days of yore.

Actually, what is really interesting is that in an earlier incarnation Ezra Levant worked to punish a newspaper for publishing a cartoon. A cartoon was published in the Gateway in the University of Alberta during the early 90s (I think 93 or 94). The cartoon depicted Jesus being born now, and with an Israeli soldier declaring the need to smash down the manger in which he was born “because the manger was an improperly registered dwelling.” This caused enormous excitement, with one prof. claiming that it was an imitation of the Medieval European cartoons with the “Christ-killer motive.”


The joke is that Levant jumped into this controversy with his hair in a braid, using it as his platform to eliminate evil “left-wing anti-Israel” bias in university publications.

I remember this, actually. My main watering-hole on campus was the late lamented Dewey's Pub & Deli, where unfortunately the regular clientele included Ezra Levant, who at the time was considered something of a golden boy in Alberta conservatism, and was clearly lining himself up for a big-time political career. Of course, he fucked that up in a number of interesting different ways, and on a number of different occasions. Anyhoo, when the Gateway published that cartoon, well, lets just say that the political arguments in Dewey's got ramped up a notch or two. And yeah, ol' Ezra was pretty much leading the "lynch the cartoonist" brigade that time around.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

We're Still Alive, Just Busy

And cold. It's bitter outside right now! Anyway, back to real posting tomorrow, possibly on towards late afternoon or evening.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

We're Really Not Doing Any Work Today

But we are blogrolling people. For example, The Galloping Beaver!

Spot On

We here at Oi! Thump! think that Alison over at Creekside has gotten it absolutely right, Valentine's-Day-Wise.

Monday, February 13, 2006

And In Other News...

Conservative Life, whose death we somberly announced some time ago, seems to have shambled back from beyond the grave. And they're all over this story, from some batshit insane woman down south. Here's an excerpt:

During his WonderCon panel, Frank Miller discussed his next graphic novel. Once again, Miller returns to the world of the Batman, this time with Holy Terror, Batman!. Though the title plays with Robin's classic catchphrase, the book deals with a serious subject. Gotham has been attacked by Al Qaeda and Batman sets out to defend the city he loves. The book, which Miller has inked through 120 pages, is expected to run roughly 200 pages total.
Miller proudly announced the title of his next Batman book, which he will write, draw and ink. Holy Terror, Batman! is no joke. And Miller doesn't hold back on the true purpose of the book, calling it "a piece of prop[a]ganda," where 'Batman kicks al Qaeda's ass."

I'm actually sort of interested to see what comes of this, although I'm not a real fan of the superhero genre of comic books. And, speaking of things "comic," I invite you to check out the Comments section for this story. It seems some folks are pretty excited, although because Miller once portrayed Ronald Reagan as less than truly divine, he's still suspect.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Oh That's Just Swell...

First noted this over at donkey o.d., which I don't visit nearly enough...

Global warming: passing the 'tipping point'
Our special investigation reveals that critical rise in world temperatures is now unavoidable
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
Published: 11 February 2006

A crucial global warming "tipping point" for the Earth, highlighted only last week by the British Government, has already been passed, with devastating consequences.

Research commissioned by The Independent reveals that the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has now crossed a threshold, set down by scientists from around the world at a conference in Britain last year, beyond which really dangerous climate change is likely to be unstoppable.

I'd be all, like, worried and shit about this except that we have the good folks at the Association of British Drivers (WTF? - ed.), who have absolutely no agenda here whatsoever, no sir, to tell us that global warming doesn't exist. Them and the Bush adminstration.

New Tory Needs Love... Badly!

'I won't quit' embattled Emerson tells CBC
Last Updated Sat, 11 Feb 2006 00:27:20 EST
CBC News

International Trade Minister David Emerson says he isn't going to bow to pressure and step down and face the electorate again in a byelection.

In his first public comments in more than two days, Emerson told CBC News in Vancouver on Friday night, "No, I'm not going to quit."

"We've got at least three, perhaps more, members of Parliament who have crossed the floor or opted to sit as an Independent. Frankly, my circumstances are not any different than those."

You have got to be shitting me. Besides, the CPC needs somebody to help it keep its spin straight. Viz:

But Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said Friday that Emerson's situation is different.

"It's one that took place in close proximity to the election. Unlike a previous situation where we saw an individual essentially salvage a government in exchange for a vote, receiving a cabinet post. I don't think anyone could attribute the same nefarious motives here."

And with that, the Conservative Government essentially said "Fuck You" to Canadians in general. It followed that with: "You kept us out of power for more than a decade, and by fuck you are going to pay for it. You were dumb enough to fall for the 'more moderate' bullshit that pulled during the campaign, and you let us in the door, and now we are going to do to you whatever the fuck we want. Ethical government? Fuck that."

To their credit though, conservatives (and some Conservatives) around the country are plenty pissed with the new government's blatant lack of common decency. We're all well aware of Garth Turner's views on the matter, but even the folks over at the hilariously named "Proud To Be Canadian" blog weighed in, issuing a persipacious and wise statement on the issue:

Raaaaah! CBC Bad! Ann Coulter Good!

Ok, maybe not so much.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Friday Archaeology Blogging: Regina and Barates

Let us commence with this:

Britain is likely to lose magnificent Roman tombstone
By Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent

EXCITEMENT over a Roman gravestone discovered in the centre of Lancaster has been dampened by the news that, although the artefact is barely out of the ground, Britain is likely to lose it to an overseas buyer.

Archaeologists said yesterday that the gravestone, which depicts with great clarity a mounted trooper holding a sword and the head of a man he has just killed, was a unique find.

The stone has yet to be dried, conserved and studied, but its owner — the developer on whose land it has been found — has already sought valuation advice from Sotheby’s.

Christopher Tudor-Whelan, director of Tudor-Whelan Property Holdings, which specialises in commercial investment properties, hopes to sell it in New York. He confirmed yesterday that he has been told that he can expect to sell it for “up to $100,000” (£57,500).

Sounds to me like Christopher Tudor-Whelan, director of Tudor-Whelan Property Holdings which specialises in commercial investment properties, is deserving of a swift kick in the fork. But that's just me (and, for the sake of fairness, it's worth pointing out that there are artefacts in the British Museum whose provenance is, shall we say, somewhat odd).

The gravestone, which commemorates a cavalry officer of the late 1st century or early 2nd century AD, was unearthed when archaeologists excavated land in the city centre before construction work began on a block of flats. Experts are overwhelmed by the artefact’s quality, although it is in three pieces and yet to be reassembled.

The stone, which originally would have measured 2.5m (8ft) in height, features a solar face, reminiscent of the famous Medusa head from Roman Bath, above the trooper’s head. The beheaded victim kneels on the ground, holding his sword.

Eight feet?!?!???! That is one monster of a tombstone...

Although beheading war victims was accepted Roman practice, it is thought that no such depiction of a man on horseback has been found before.

Importantly, the stone also bears an inscription that provides clues to the man to whom it was dedicated — a citizen of a Celtic tribe in northern Europe, the Treveri, which is known to have occupied an area where Belgium, Germany and France meet. The tribe was said to have provided Julius Caesar with his best cavalry.

The inscription refers to a man called Lucius Nisus Vodvilleius, or Insus, son of Vodullus. The precise name is unclear as it is abbreviated.

Oh, Lucius Nisus Vodvilleius (or perhaps Insus, son of Vodullus), what sins did you commit in life, that your tombstone ended up on land belonging to Christopher Tudor-Whelan, director of Tudor-Whelan Property Holdings, which specialises in commercial investment properties?

Anyway, enough snark. I selected this particular article for this week's FAB mostly because my very favourite archaeological find in the entire world ever is a Roman tombstone from Britain, dating probably to the 3rd century A.D. And, here it is:

The inscription on the bottom reads:


"To the spirits of the departed and Regina, freedwoman and wife of Barates of Palmyra, a Catuvellaunian by race, thirty years old."

Alright, so we have this Barates, from Palmyra in the Middle East. As a young man, 17 or 18 years old, he enlists in the Roman army, and gets posted to Britannia, which is as far away from, and unlike, Syria as it is possible to get in the Roman Empire. Britain in the 3rd century was not as awful as it had been, say, 200 years earlier, but it was still cold, wet, and dangerous (In fact, the emperor Septimus Severus died in Britain while conducting military operations in A.D. 211). We can only imagine what it must have been like for a Syrian teenager.

However, our man Barates did alright. At some point, at one of the slave auctions, he encountered Regina, a Celtic woman from the tribe that had been in the vanguard of the opposition to Rome so many years before. Apparently a man of taste and discernment, Barates bought Regina. And then he did an unlikely thing; he not only freed her, but married her as well. This he did not have to do; had he merely wanted somebody to boink, he could have kept her as a slave. In fact, his act of marrying her was probably illegal, given that he was likely a soldier. Evidently, he fell in love with her, enough so that when she died, he paid for an ornate tombstone, and added a poignant little lament in his native language (Aremaic) beneath the traditional Latin inscription.

Barates never went back to Syria. He died in the North of what is now England at the age of 63, according to his tombstone, which was found some distance, but not too far, from that of his young wife.

Anyway, I've obviously taken a few liberties with the evidence here in constructing the tale of Barates and Regina, but the core facts of the story (including Barates' affection for Regina) are likely enough. Which is why, when I read shit like this:

Asked how he had felt when [the tombstone of Lucius Nisus Vodvilleius] was unearthed, [Christopher Tudor-Whelan, director of Tudor-Whelan Property Holdings, which specialises in commercial investment properties] said: “The archaeological guys were more excited than me. I thought, ‘Oh my God, this will hold up the development’. At the end, the proof of the pudding is how much it is worth.”

my foot starts twitching...

For anybody interested in looking at the tombstones of Regina and Barates in more detail, they are published in Collingwood & Wright, The Roman Inscriptions of Britain: Volume I (Oxford U. Press, 1965), and are reference numbers 1065 and 1171 respectively.
Marking Finished!!!!!!!!!!

And I can actually do fun stuff, at least until the next bit of work comes along in 3, 2, 1...

Monday, February 06, 2006

One Big Project Done With

...and one more to go. Ooooh, I hate marking! Anyway, regular service resumes soon.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Best Wishes, Cathie

One of our favouritest people in Bloggonia, Cathie from Canada, has managed to get herself (fortunately mildly) injured in a car accident. Oi! Thump! extends its sincerest best wishes for a speedy recovery, and we encourage everyone to stop over at her blog and wish her the best.
Friday Archaeology Blogging

The beginning of a grand tradition at Oi! Thump!? Probably not, knowing our work-ethic, but we'll give 'er a try.

Robot spots ancient Greek shipwreck
Vessel laden with wine and oil went down 2,300 years ago
By Ker Than
Updated: 5:47 p.m. ET Feb. 2, 2006

The remains of an ancient Greek cargo ship that sank more than 2,300 years ago have been uncovered with a deep-sea robot, archaeologists announced Thursday.

Here's more on this:

Deep-sea robot photographs ancient Greek shipwreck
Deborah Halber, News Office Correspondent
February 2, 2006

Sometime in the fourth century B.C., a Greek merchant ship sank off Chios and the Oinoussai islands in the eastern Aegean Sea. The wooden vessel may have succumbed to a storm or a fire, or maybe rough weather caused the cargo of 400 ceramic jars filled with wine and olive oil to shift without warning. The ship went down in 60 meters (about 200 feet) of water, where it remained unnoticed for centuries.

Ok, so what can this tell us? Well, first of all, wine and oil amphorae were often stamped with a "maker's mark":

While these don't necessarily give one the origin of a specific cargo, they do tell us where the amphora was made, and this knowledge can obviously help in putting together a larger picture of trade in a certain region. For example, if you're finding Spanish amphorae all over the place in, say, the region of Cyprus, you can pretty much safely say that there was some sort of exchange going on between those two regions, whether or not the vessels were later being re-used for more local commerce. Furthermore, there's a chance, albeit a slim one, that some of the amphora contents may have survived, and chemical analysis can help pinpoint the exact origin of the material. As far as the ship itself is concerned, I couldn't tell from any of the pictures how intact it was, but archaeologists may be able to work out its dimensions, and at least some of the details of its appearance. It probably looked not unlike this:

In short, this wreck has the potential to yield some interesting new data on what exactly was going on in the Aegean area about the time that Philip of Macedon...

...was moving onto the scene, and the last vestiges of what had been the "Golden Age" of Greece were fading away.