archaeology

There's a secret war that's been ongoing for sometime among archaeologists concerning the proper way to interpret relics left behind by older cultures, the meanings and intentions of which have been lost to the gulf of time. On the one hand are those who would call a cigar a cigar, or in this case, a cave painting that looks like an owl is probably an owl. On the other side are those who are pretty sure we'll never be able to say with certainty that the painting actually is of an owl, though it certainly looks like one.

Mapping Doggerland, A Real Place

Did you know that there was once such a thing as giant deer?! I learned this recently reading an excellent post on the excellent archaeology site Past Horizons. There was such a thing as giant deer and they lived not too long ago during the Pleistocene era, the geological period that encompassed the last ice age. Giant deer were among the Pleistocene megafauna of Western Europe and they dwelt in a place called Doggerland.

There are a few ways an organic object can become preserved way beyond the normal time it takes for similar material to normally decompose. For a bone surrounded by sediment, the marrow and other organic material within the bone decomposes and is replaced by microscopic minerals. The structure of the bone holds its shape, but the bone essentially turns into a fossil rock from the inside out.

Bull-Leaping Prehistoric Civilization Excavated on Santorini

A cursory glance around modern American culture with an alien eye will yield all manner of weirdness. All of those billboards and Big Boy restaurant statutes, taken out without context, are quite bizarre. Should we suddenly vanish from this mortal coil as a culture, what would later archaeologists make of the Jack in the Box guy?

Once You're Dead Long Enough You Belong to the World

In museums, research facilities and universities throughout the world, there are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of human remains held in collection. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History alone has more than 18,500 human remains in its collection. Most of these tend to be the remains of indigenous peoples (read: non-European) whose remains were often come by through illegal digs (read: grave robbing).

Without satellites we wouldn't have a lot of things. We wouldn't have cable television, GPS (and by extension geocaching), and weather would take us generally by surprise. We wouldn't have intelligence on other countries, other countries wouldn't have intelligence on us. We wouldn't have Google Earth. Google Earth already proved a valuable tool for espionage when Tom Clancy types went up in arms after an image of a classified nuclear sub in dry dock at a Naval shipyard was picked up on the service.

Columbus is often touted as the "discoverer" of the Americas, he wasn't the first to set foot on American soil by a long shot. Tune in as Josh and Chuck dig deep into the history -- and mystery -- of the first American inhabitants in this podcast.

Cenotes: Sacred Portals to Other Worlds

Scientists love to mess with eldritch gods. Egyptologist Howard Carter did it to the Kemite gods. Archaeologist Guiseppe Fiorelli did it to the Hellenic gods. Parapsychologists Egon Spengler, Peter Venkmen, Raymond Stanz and their associate Winston Zeddmore raised the ire of the Sumerian god Gozer. In most cases leading an expedition into an obscure or revered site is done in the name of archaeology (pillage, pillage, loot, loot). After all, the religious artifacts are going to a museum, just like animals captured in the wild may be taken to zoos.