Monday, July 27, 2009

Sub Ground Imaging offers free geophysics

I'm away in Europe for 6 weeks, so you won't see quite so much of me here. At the moment, I'm doing archaeometry and magnetometry at the Poggio Colla Etruscan site near Florence.

But via the ISAP litserv, and speaking of geophysics, a nice message from Sub Ground Imaging in southern England(superfluous capitalizations removed):


If you are managing an educational or other non-profit archaeological project,
and are interested in our services, please feel free to contact us. We may very
well be both able and willing to assist you. We will consider donating our
geophysics services free of charge to worthy projects that benefit education or
further the knowledge of British Archaeology.

Why as a commercial concern would we do this?That is simple. We ourselves have a keen interest in archaeology and understand the importance of its contribution to the history of our country. We also understand the importance of state of the art techniques and resources being available to educational projects and to non-profit
archaeological groups and societies.If you feel your project could benefit from our assistance please drop us a line with a brief outline of your project. We will be pleased to help any project we feel to be both genuine, and worthy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

North (by Northwest?)

I often realize I'm behind in my reading when I come across a big idea I've missed. The NY Times recently had a nice piece on the idea of Steve Lekson that Native American cultures of the Southwest were disposed to migrate in a north-south direction. My gut reaction is skepticism - and apparently I'm not the only skeptic. Seems like the number of locations are few, and given geologic and climatic limitations, perhaps it is not surprising that these sites are approximately aligned along cardinal directions. But I'll leave it to Southwestern archaeologists and archaeoastronomers to sort this one out.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Welcome, Time Team America

I enjoyed watching the first episode of Time Team America on PBS last night. I've never seen the UK show on which it is based. The program has a nice web site, where you can stream last night's show. On yesterday's episode, the team was trying to find evidence for the European colonization of Roanoke Island, North Carolina.

The show started out with some magnetometry, showing the very Bartington instrument I had been checking out for a proposal yesterday, and Meg Watters, the team geophysicist, running gpr. Personally, I'd explain magnetometry a little differently, but why quibble (except for the fact that I am an academic, so a professional quibbler). The archaeologist at the site was Nick Lucketti, of the First Colony Foundation, whom I did a small archaeomagnetic job for seven years ago. I also met Eric Deetz, another member of the Time Team, on that same trip to the Jamestown area. The show recalled to me some criticism of the Time Team Program that these three-day site visits are not how archaeology works, and I can see that criticism. The finds were relatively slim, although, as Nick said, more European household artifacts than had been found for some years. Still, this seems like a good way to excite the public about the possibilities of archaeology, and the application of scientific methods.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Pope as radiocarbon dater

From Times Online
June 29, 2009

"Pope Benedict XVI said last night that bone fragments found inside the tomb of St Paul in Rome had been carbon dated for the first time, 'confirming the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul'.


"He said that archaeologists had inserted a probe into the white marble sarcophagus under the Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls which has been revered for centuries as the tomb of St Paul.

"The pontiff said: 'Small fragments of bone were carbon dated by experts who knew nothing about their provenance and results showed they were from someone who lived between the 1st and 2nd century. This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of Paul the Apostle.'"


From me: Is this the perfect intersection of science and faith? Or is there any chance this could be the bone of a commoner from the first century CE?