02 NOVEMBRE 2018: Pensacola - Mount Vernon - Nikolayevo - Alay Valley -
INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'ANTHROPOLOGIE
INSTITUTE OF ANTHROPOLOGY
ONLINE COURSES / COURS A DISTANCE
FALL TERM : OCTOBER 2018
USA – Pensacola - Conservation of a Spanish breastplate that dates back at least 450 years has revealed decorative details on its surface. Recovered from the site of the Emanuel Point I shipwreck in 1996, the armor is thought to have been worn by a conquistador in Tristan de Luna’s army in 1559. At the time, the armor was probably about one-tenth to one-quarter of an inch thick. Now, after years underwater, the iron has been converted into iron sulfide measuring only about one-fiftieth of an inch thick. Concretions on its surface, however, measuring up to three inches thick preserved its shape. John Bratten of the University of West Florida said he poured epoxy into the back of the armor and left it to harden for several years to make a cast. Student James Gazaway has continued to clean and conserve the breastplate over the past year. “Right around the neckline there’s four parallel rows of lines about one millimeter apart,” he said. “Very precise, definitely inscribed, and part of the original decoration work on the piece.”
USA – Mount Vernon - Six millennia after a stone ax was carved, it was rediscovered by a pair of Ohio teens on an archaeological dig at George Washington's Mount Vernon estate. The ax, which is about seven inches long and three inches wide, is similar to axes dating back to the Archaic period of Virginia’s history, or roughly 4,500 to 8,000 years ago. "The axe provides a window onto the lives of individuals who lived here nearly 6,000 years ago," Sean Devlin, Mount Vernon’s curator of archaeological collections, said in a statement. "Artifacts, such as this, are a vital resource for helping us learn about the diverse communities who shaped this landscape throughout its long history.” The site of the discovery, the African American cemetery, was used by Virginia Indians as far back as 8,000 years ago and used continuously as a stopping point for communities that traveled along the Potomac River or collected resources from the area, according to archaeological research. In Washington's time, it was possibly used as a site for enslaved and freed descendants to be buried. Excavations of the area began in 2014 and 80 graves have been found as of October, Wood said. The ax apparently shows "the skill and craftsmanship" of whoever made it, since the crafter would have to chip away at river cobble stone with a hammer stone to create a sharper, cutting edge for the face of the ax. The craftsman would then hammer the tool with a harder stone to create an even smoother, cutting surface and then smoothed the surface with a hard grinding stone before a groove was poked into the back half of the head for a wooden handle to be inserted.
BELARUS – Nikolayevo - The unique ancient boat, which was raised from the bottom of the Neman River near the village of Nikolayevo, Ivye District, Grodno Oblast, is 500 years old, BelTA learned from the press service of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (NASB). According to scientists, the boat was made in approximately 1500-1510. Historians already call this find an archaeological sensation, the press service noted. It was also established that the oak, from which the ancient boat was made, was about 300 years old at the time the tree was cut. It means that the tree began to grow in the early 13th century. These facts were established during dendrochronological analysis of the boat. The boat was discovered by the locals. Such boats were widely used in old times. They were the main type of water transport used by ancient inhabitants on the territory of the present Belarus starting from the Stone Age period.
KYRGYZSTAN - Alay Valley - A study published on Wednesday in the journal PLOS One provided molecular, DNA evidence that domestic animals made their way into high mountain corridors along the ancient Silk Road more than four thousand years ago. Using ancient proteins and DNA recovered from tiny pieces of animal bone, German, French and Russian scientists found that long before the creation of Silk Road, a set of trade routes linking East and West Eurasia through its arid continental interior, pastoral herders living in the mountains of Central Asia helped form new cultural and biological links across this region. However, in many of the most important channels of the Silk Road itself, including Kyrgyzstan's Alay Valley, a large mountain corridor linking northwest China with the oases cities, very little is known about the life of the early people who lived there in the centuries preceding the Silk Road era. In 2017, an international team of researchers identified a series of never-before-seen habitation sites along the mountain margins that form Kyrgzstan's southern border with Tajikistan. Test excavations and surveys at these sites produced archaeological animal bones that promised to shed light on how people used the Alay region in the past. But those bones were so small and badly broken that researchers could no longer use their size and shape to identify which species they originally belonged to. William Taylor from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and his colleagues used laser-based, mass spectrometry to identify the peptide building blocks that make up collagen inside the bone itself and produce unique "fingerprints." They discovered that people living in the Alay Valley began herding sheep, goat, and cattle by at least 4,300 years ago. Combining their work with ancient DNA research at France's University of Toulouse, they also found that in later centuries, as Silk Road trade flourished across the region, transport animals like domestic horses and Bactrian camel became increasingly significant in Alay. This study showed that biomolecular methods and ancient DNA can take the fragmented piles of bone that have been almost worthless to archaeologists and open up a whole new world of insights into the human story across Central Asia, according to Taylor.