Archeology Today

I know that sounds like a monthly magazine…..

My regulars know that I am a bit of an amateur archeologist and historian….I find the acts of our distant ancestors as amazing and fascinating…..Easter Island has been a source of wonder and speculation….just how did they do those massive statues?

Of course those ding-dongs of the “Ancient Aliens”say that only visitors from the outer worlds could have  assisted in the making and moving of these statues……but…….

The tale of the demise of Easter Island’s people may have to be rewritten. The story has long held that infighting as resources ran out was one of the main drivers of the collapse, but a new study published in the Journal of Pacific Archaeology suggests a different scenario. CNN reports on the “unlikely method” of examining the society via of some of the stone tools used to carve the island’s famous stone figures: Researchers performed a chemical analysis on four of the statues and fragments from 17 of the roughly 1,600 basalt tools, called toki, that had been excavated. The goal was to determine where the basalt had come from. There were three quarries on the island that were potential sources of the volcanic rock; the key discovery is that there was “near exclusive” use of a single quarry to make the toki.

Here’s the jump researchers are making from there, per a press release: Lead study author Dale Simpson Jr. sees that as “solid evidence that there was cooperation among families and craft groups. … The idea of competition and collapse on Easter Island might be overstated.” But Jo Anne Van Tilburg, who led the excavations, cautions against coming to an overstated conclusion in this case. She says the findings bolster the view “of craft specialization based on information exchange, but we can’t know at this stage if the interaction was collaborative. It may also have been coercive in some way. Human behavior is complex.” (This separate study pushes the same theory but based on different evidence: obsidian.)

When I relax in my garden I like to consume nuts, fruit and cheese…..aged cheese is always better…..but how about a cheese that is 3000 years old?

For thousands of years beneath Egypt’s desert sands, a solidified whitish substance sat in a broken jar. Scientists now say it’s “probably the most ancient archaeological solid residue of cheese ever found,” per the AP. Archaeologists came across the finding while cleaning the sands around a 19th-dynasty tomb at the vast Saqqara necropolis of the ancient city of Memphis. The tomb of Ptahmes, the mayor of ancient Memphis, was initially discovered in 1885 but had been swallowed by shifting sands until its rediscovery in 2010. The whitish solidified mass was found during the excavation work between 2013 and 2014, along with a canvas fabric that may have been used to cover the jar, a study published this week in Analytical Chemistry said. The 3,200-year-old cheese was found to be made from a mixture of cow milk and that of a sheep or goat.

Cheese-making has been depicted on wall murals of ancient Egyptian tombs from 2,000 BC. Also, a 2012 study published in the science journal Nature traces the earliest evidence of the industry to the 6th millennium BC in northern Europe, some 7,000 years ago. Older cheese residues discovered were typically attributed to natural fermented milk like yoghurt or kefir, but the discovery at Saqqara revealed no trace of proteins from natural milk fermentation, said study lead author Enrico Greco. “For this reason we can say that it is the oldest solid cheese ever found to date.” There is little information on this particular cheese-making process, but “it was necessary to develop a specific technology and procedures that did not exist before,” Greco said. “This is a very important point in the history of dairy food.”

Okay, what wine would I pair with this “aged” cheese?

That is my offering on this Sunday…..I hope you have a wonderful day and all is well with you and your family….chuq

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