Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports

Online ISSN: 2352-409X
Publications
Article
While exploration of Australian post-colonial (≤0.25 ka) OSL dating is well established in a range of natural sedimentary contexts (e.g. fluvial, aeolian, coastal), to date there have been no successful examples of the technique applied to archaeological sediments of this era. Here we present the results of multi-phase compliance based archaeological excavations of a new bridge crossing, the Hawkesbury-Nepean River (northwest Sydney). These works identified a Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) aeolian deposit through which a colonial era drainage system had been excavated. Historical documents reveal the construction of the system occurred between 1814 and 1816 CE. An opportunistic range-finding Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) sample was obtained from anthropogenic trench backfill – composed of reworked LGM deposits – immediately above the drainage system. Minimum and Finite Mixture age models of single grain quartz OSL provided a date of 1826 CE (1806–1846 CE), in close agreement with the documented age of construction. These findings provide the first evidence of a colonial structure reliably dated using OSL, and demonstrate the feasibility of wider deployment of OSL dating to other archaeological sites of the recent era (≤0.25 ka). We propose that such environments associated with large volumes of sand-rich backfill, in particular, likely heighten OSL dating success. We propose that well-documented historical archaeological sites in Australia also have the potential to provide a robust testing ground for further evaluating the accuracy of OSL dating in a range of young archaeological sedimentary contexts, potentially to sub-decadal levels
 
Article
Taphonomic analysis carried out at BK4b has provided compelling evidence for megafaunal acquisition and consumption, and the amount of meat that hominins consumed is far greater than documented at any other early Pleistocene site. The aim of the present work is to characterize the lithic assemblage associated with such a special subsistence context. The results presented here show that the bulk of the technological process was largely devoted to producing in-site small quartz flakes motivated by an imperative demand for durable cutting edges. Conversely, the operational sequence aimed at producing LCTs played a secondary role and is represented by different and isolated fractions. The quality of the cutting edges of quartz flakes may explain the preferential use of quartz at BK4b for flake production. These techno-economic strategies are likely connected with the exploitation and consumption of carcasses (butchering technology), but other subsistence activities were carried out besides butchery. In sum, we can conclude that the higher demand of cutting edges that presumably required a recurrent megafaunal exploitation at BK4b was largely satisfied by the production of small flakes rather than LCTs.
 
Article
We report metallographic studies of copper ingots and metal artefacts recovered during sporadic surface surveys and excavations over the past fifty years in the northern Lowveld of South Africa. These include primary copper ingots, copper droplets or prills, a nodule of tin bronze, a bimetallic copper/iron ingot, cast copper bars and rods, and finished items like finger rings and beads. Metallographic study of these items shows that copper smelters had difficulty in controlling reducing conditions sufficiently to prevent the co-reduction of iron, despite the use of smaller furnaces for copper smelting than local iron production. Copper probably was refined by melting in crucibles, allowing the iron contaminant to float to the surface, where it was skimmed off. Despite former suggestions to the contrary by geologists, brass could not have been produced locally by smelting of zinc‑copper ores from the Murchison Range. Bronze and brass first appeared in this region at the end of the thirteenth century CE, probably as imports from the Islamic world.
 
Article
A detailed analysis of two faunal assemblages fromLas Pailas ? SsalCac18 (1) archaeological locality, in the northern section of the Calchaquí Valley (Salta province, Argentina), dated to the Regional Developments Period (ca. AD 1000-1430), is presented. Las Pailas was a large urban settlement, inhabited throughout most of the aforementioned Period. The assemblages come from two trash-dumps of different sizes. The smaller one (Structure 2) was found in a space formed between the walls of two rooms. The other dump (Test pit 3) is much bigger, it belongs to a 140 centimeters thick archaeological deposit situated in the town?s outer limits. As both assemblages reflect different lengths of time of accumulation, the analysis was aimed at approaching the relationship between a global strategy for the management of faunal resources at Las Pailas (Test pit 3), and its adaptation to particular constraints in a shorter time (Structure 2). The data presented here contributes to enlarge our knowledge of the geographical and historical variability of the zooarchaeological record of the center and northern Calchaquí Valley.
 
Article
The Late Intermediate Period (LIP, c. 1000–1450 CE) was a time of cultural change in the Peruvian highlands. During this time, interpersonal violence increased, and settlements were placed in defensive locations at high elevations. High altitude settlement was also a proxy for agropastoral economies. Coinciding with these cultural and economic transformations were shifts in mortuary practices in which the deceased were buried in above-ground tombs, known as chullpas, and in caves. In this paper, we examine the implications of these changes with respect to diet and mobility through a multi-isotopic analysis of human burials from three LIP sites in the Conchucos region. We analyzed strontium (⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr), and carbon and nitrogen (δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N) isotopes in human skeletal remains (n = 101) from burials at the sites of Marcajirca (n = 66), Jato Viejo (n = 9), and Ushcugaga (n = 26). At all three sites, dietary mixing models using δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N values suggest a diet based largely on maize and camelids, with minor consumption of C3 plants and guinea pig. Human enamel ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr values ranged from 0.7095 to 0.7125 and varied significantly between sites. All human ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr values resembled those found in the regional geology, suggesting that individuals buried at the three sites were probably from the Conchucos region. In addition, patterns in ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr values may indicate that the individuals buried in chullpas, and caves were members of extended kin groups. We conclude that groups living in Conchucos during the LIP created and maintained local exchange networks that exploited vertically stacked production zones.
 
Article
The article presents and discusses the results of Residue Analysis performed on 27 pottery vessels, placed as offerings in burials dating to the Iron I period (ca. 1050–900 BCE) at the site Ḥorvat Tevet (Israel). The results show that heated beeswax was used during the burial ceremonies and placed in variety of vessels. These results shed new light on burial practices of South Levantine rural communities. They also contribute to the growing body of evidence regarding bee-product economy in the Southern Levant during the beginning of the Iron IIA.
 
Article
This paper presents new archaeological information to analyse and discuss the processes of macro-regional interaction that occurred along the Holocene in the highlands of the north-western Argentina, also known as Puna. Primarily, this research work is focused on the provenance of obsidian recovered in lithic assemblages of the Alero Cuevas, Abrigo Pozo Cavado, Abra de Minas and Cueva Inca Viejo sites, located in the Puna of Salta. These sites have radiocarbon dates between ca. 10000 BP and 500 BP. Specifically, the obsidian sources were determined through the analysis of samples by energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (XRF). As a result, the circulation of obsidian from diverse areas of the Puna allowed me to analyse human interaction on different spatial scales, which even covered distances of around 300 km. Likewise, a brief description of other archaeological indicators was made in order to study this topic, including morphological and technological changes in the lithic material, the presence of feathers, wood and seeds from the lowlands, and the caravans of camelids in the rock-art. Finally, the results presented are also important for understanding the transmission of cultural information within processes of interaction on broad spatial and chronological scales in the South-central Andes.
 
Article
The suggestion by Armstrong (2020) that the ceramics from the fifth century monastery of St. Lot, Jordan, represent evidence for an early Byzantine alkali glazing tradition is based upon a misinterpretation of an earlier study by Freestone et al. (2001). The St. Lot glazes were unintentional and formed as a result of the reaction of the kiln vapour with the clay ceramic. Evidence for an early Byzantine alkali glazing technology is called into question.
 
Variation in stable C and N isotope values for human remains. The individuals are grouped following the criteria by: a) Gil et al. (2020a) and b) Gordón et al., 2018; Rindel et al., 2021.
Variation in stable C and N isotope values for the five resources used in this study. The resources were grouped following: a) Gil et al. (2020a), b) Gil et al. (2020a) with the resources from Monte and Patagonia grouped, and c) Rindel et al., 2021.
Article
Referring to an article recently published by JAS Reports (Gil et al., 2020a, 34, 102620) this comment raises some questions about the use of vegetation units to group human samples and the selection of resources included in a mixing model of diet composition in Northwest Patagonia. We analyzed the same dataset of human δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N isotopes but grouping the samples by environmental and archaeological similarity and using resources well supported by archaeological evidence. In contrast to Gil et al. (2020a), we found large diet differences among areas within Northwest Patagonia, with the sample from North Neuquén displaying lower variation in isotopic values and lower diversity in the resources consumed compared to neighboring areas. This pattern is hidden by the approach followed by Gil et al. (2020a), biasing our understanding of diet variation in the region. These results caution against grouping human samples in extensive vegetation units and the use of a large number of resources.
 
Article
This paper presents results of excavations at an Iron Age (~ 10th c. BCE) gatehouse and associated livestock pens in one of the largest copper smelting camps in Timna Valley – Site 34 (“Slaves' Hill”). The extraordinary preservation of organic materials allowed for in depth investigations of animal bones as well as seeds and pollen found in dung piles. The results demonstrate that the gatehouse area was used for keeping donkeys (or mules), which were the common draught animal at the time, together with other livestock (probably goats). The donkeys were fed with grape pomace and hay (rather than straw) that originated from the Mediterranean regions, > 100 km to the northeast (Edom) and 200 km to the north (Philistia/Judea). This food reflects special treatment and care, in accordance with the key role of the donkeys in the success of copper production and trade in a logistically challenging region. Furthermore, the excavations revealed a deliberate piling of the dung against the inner face of the site's wall, most probably in order to use it as fuel in the copper smelting process (the initial heating of the furnaces). In addition, the excavations yielded insights on the metalworkers themselves, including their rich diet (as reflected by animal bones and seeds) and activities at the gatehouse area. The latter includes secondary metallurgical processes such as refining/melting in crucibles and probably casting of ingots. Lastly, the results of this study shed new light on the Iron Age society engaged in copper production in Timna (probably early Edom), further stressing its complexity and centralized organization, as well as its involvement in inter-regional trade. The gatehouse and walls also indicate substantial investment in deterrence and defense, reflecting a period of instability and military threat in 10th c. BCE Timna.
 
Article
One of the main questions that zooarcheologists have attempted to answer in their studies of ancient agropastoral economies relates to animal diet. Starch granules and phytoliths, which derive from the plant foods consumed over the course of an animal's life, become imbedded in dental calculus and thus offer direct clues about diet. In this paper, we investigate pig diet with an eye toward understanding husbandry strategies in northern Mesopotamia, the region in which pigs were first domesticated, from the Epipaleolithic though the Early Bronze Age. Our data reveal that pigs consumed an assortment of plant foods, including grasses, wild tubers, acorns, and domestic cereals. Although poor preservation plagued the identification of plant microremains at Epipaleolithic (10th millennium cal. BC) Hallan Çemi, the identification of a diet based on tubers and grasses matches models of wild boar diet. Pigs at 6th millennium Domuztepe, 5th millennium Ziyadeh, and 4th millennium Hacinebi consumed cereals, particularly oats (Avena sp.) and barley (Hordeum sp.), as well as wild plant food resources. Several of the cereal starch granules showed evidence of cooking, indicating that pigs had access to household refuse beginning at least in the late Neolithic. Moreover, calculus from morphologically wild specimens also contained cooked cereal grains. This points to a close relationship between wild boar populations and human settlements in the Neolithic and beyond. Preservation was poor for 3rd millennium sites in the study, including Atij, Raqa'i, Ziyadeh, and Leilan, but the available data suggest that pigs ate oats, barley and other Triticeae (the tribe that includes wheat, barley, and goatgrass), and other grasses. This may represent foddering practices in the Early Bronze Age.
 
Article
The first Hungarians settled the Carpathian Basin in the 9th and 10th centuries CE, during the Hungarian Conquest. The 10th century CE Kenézlő-Fazekaszug is one of several cemeteries from this period that exist across present-day Hungary. Although stable isotope studies have investigated the diet of medieval Europeans, this paper details the first dietary research performed on a Hungarian Conquest period population. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses were undertaken on dental enamel (n = 18) and dentin (n = 17) to determine childhood diet. Enamel apatite δ¹³C values average at −9.5‰ and dentin collagen δ¹³C values at −16.0‰. Dentin collagen δ¹⁵N values have a mean of 11.9‰. Additionally, stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses were performed on bone apatite (n = 21) and collagen (n = 22) to determine adulthood diet. Bone apatite δ¹³C values average at −11.1‰. Bone collagen δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N values have an average of −17.0‰ and 11.5‰, respectively. These results suggest that C3 plants were the primary plant type utilized by the population but also that C4 plants were consumed in varying quantities. This data supports the archaeological evidence that C3 plants dominated C4 plants in early medieval Europe. The δ¹⁵N values show that this population consumed moderate amounts of animal protein, as well as that adult males had preferential access to animal protein. This study reveals new information about diet during a formative time in Hungarian history.
 
Article
Stable isotope (δ¹⁵N, δ¹³C) and ¹⁴C results from two early medieval cemeteries are presented and evaluated in this study in order to draw conclusions about diet, social differentiation and chronology in the Carpathian Basin during the Avar period (7th–9th century CE). At Tiszafüred and Hortobágy, two contemporaneous but distinct groups buried their deceased. The results reflect basic diet deviations between the two communities, which originated in alternative subsistence strategies and-or social differences. The Tiszafüred samples fit well into the general dietary picture of the period. The members of the rustic population consumed mainly cereals and millet, while the proportion of animal protein was significant also. Because of the exceptionally high δ¹⁵N levels of the Hortobágy-Árkus elite community, their diet was primarily based on animal protein, most probably of fresh-water origin. Concerning the low number of our samples that were selected for radiocarbon dating, the present information is insufficient for an exhaustive reconstruction. For now, we intend to grant some new additions to the sporadic data available for dietary reconstruction from this region and period. Our dataset is thought-provoking not only for the two distinct clusters of the plot but also for the rarity of stable isotope results from Avar and post-Avar sites. The ¹⁴C measurements published in the paper provide some new information on the chronology of the early medieval Carpathian Basin as well.
 
Article
This article presents the analysis of paleoethnobotanical and anthracological materials from the Slavic Sverdlovske 1 Hillfort (9th—10th cent.). The materials of botanical origin were obtained by flotation during archaeological excavations in 2016–2017. The material comes from dwellings, ovens and utility pits of the Romny Culture. In addition, ceramics of the Romny Culture were examined for grain imprints. The material under study included residues of cultivated plants (proso millet, barley, emmer wheat, soft wheat, rye, peas and lentil), weeds (field bindweed and bristle grasses) and charcoal (pine, oak, birch and poplar or aspen). The high rates of rye, together with almost complete absence of weeds, most likely indicate a slash-and-burn farming. The fuel wood from the site is traditional for forest zone; it is oak, pine, birch and aspen. Construction timber is represented by oak and pine. These types of wood are typical for construction purposes in the region in question. The importance of the obtained data is due to a scanty amount of materials from the Romny Culture sites in the Desna River area. The flotation method allows us to replenish substantially the existing database on paleoethnobotany and wood resourses.
 
Article
This paper discusses the current recycling and importation models of the Early Saxon iron economy. New evidence from the analysis of smelting slags and ores from the sites of Quarrington and Flixborough is presented which proves that fresh metal production was also occurring at this time, and with an increase in scale through the Saxon period. The findings are further supplemented by historical evidence which demonstrates that bedded iron ores were in use from at least the 7th century CE
 
Article
In 2009, an exceptional discovery was made in west-central Poland. At the Late Bronze Age necropolis in Wartosław, tools used in metalworking were unearthed from a mass grave belonging to the Lusatian people that can be dated to 1100–900 BCE. Twelve out of over 70 ceramic vessels from the burial pit were identified as urns that contained the ashes of at least eight deceased individuals, including two adult men, one young woman, one unspecified adult, and at least four children. Metallographic, chemical, and petrographic investigations of mortuary goods were used to determine their provenance and use in metalworking. The results of these investigations were used as a proxy to analyze the mass grave according to the ritual and social strategies of the era, including the status and organization of Lusatian metalworkers, and to consider the possibility of identifying their burials in the archeological record.
 
Article
This work investigates questions regarding obsidian circulation among the late populations (since ca. 1100 BP) of Antofagasta de Sierra (Catamarca Province, Argentinean Southern Puna Plateau). By means of geochemical provenance studies conducted on obsidian artefacts, the sources of obsidian that these groups accessed have been identified. The samples considered in this study were collected at three radiocarbon-dated sites in the micro-region: La Alumbrera, Bajo del Coypar II and Campo Cortaderas. The results obtained are compared with those available for other contemporary sites and Formative contextos (ca. 3000–1100 BP) within the area of study. A preliminary discussion is presented on the basis of the environmental, political and social tendencies that characterized the times after ca. 1100 BP at the micro-región and south-central Andes.
 
Article
Recent exploratory drilling at Abric Romaní reveals that carbonate tufas similar to the archeologically rich levels excavated to date extend at least 30 m beneath the current base of excavation. The present project focused on sampling and measuring a suite of new U-series dates on core samples to determine whether reliable dates could be obtained from the older tufas and, if so, their temporal extent.
 
Article
The human hands are among the earliest art themes, though reasons behind hand art in ancient times are not totally understood. In this study, we report handprints on bricks excavated from the Xiheidai cemetery, located in Jungar Banner, Inner Mongolia, China. Handprints were found on six bricks that came from the fillings of the tomb Ⅱ-M5. The burial style and funeral goods indicated that II-M5 belonged to the Jin-Yuan Period (金-元时期) (1115–1368CE). Data based on the morphology and measurements of handprints (especially that of the digits, sex, age, and height of people who left them) were analyzed in addition to hand preference. Results demonstrated that adult males left these handprints. The males had mainly middle posture and all were right-handed. The identities of the people who left these handprints are unknown. They might include brick-making laborers who had leisurely moments of artistic experimentation and experiences. However, these bricks were treated as waste. These discoveries bring out not only first-hand hand morphology beyond bones, but also vivid working scenarios of ancient laborers, adding to our understanding of working-class daily life in northern China nearly a millennium ago.
 
Article
Bone geochemistry of pre-Dogon (11th–16th cent. AD) and Dogon (17th–20th cent. AD) populations buried in two caves of the Bandiagara Cliff (Mali) was examined for the purpose of exploring their diet and mobility. While the Dogon were the subject of extensive ethnographic studies, the lifestyle of the pre-Dogon, so-called “Tellem” is not known. We therefore compared the geochemical composition of Dogon bones with the results obtained from modern dietary surveys in Mali, to establish the parameters of a dietary model that was further applied to the pre-Dogon in order to expand our knowledge concerning their way of life. The exceptional preservation of the bones of both populations was confirmed not only at the macroscopic scale, but also at the mineralogical, histological and geochemical levels, which resemble those of fresh bones, and therefore offered ideal conditions for testing this approach. The application of the Bayesian mixing model FRUITS, based on bone δ¹³C (apatite and collagen) and bone δ¹⁵N values, suggested a dietary continuity through time, from the 11th century to today. Bone barium (Ba) content revealed very restricted mobility within the Cliff while bone δ¹⁸O values indicated that Pre-Dogon and Dogon most likely occupied the Bandiagara Plateau and the Cliff, respectively.
 
Article
This paper represents the first systematic Pb isotope investigation of Italian Medieval coins and aims to provide new parameters for a general historical interpretation of coin production and circulation in Medieval Europe. We collected more than one hundred specimens, minted in a period between 9th − 14th centuries AD and coming mostly from archaeological sites of Tuscany. Here we report the results on the oldest group of (44) coins, dated between the end of the 9th and 11th centuries. All coins where previously characterized with handheld X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analysis and lead isotope composition (PbIC) was performed using an MC-ICP-Mass Spectrometer. The Carolingian coins have PbIC compatible with Melle silver district; the few Carolingian coins possibly minted in Italy (Venice and Milan) are also compatible with ore districts such as Melle and Harz Mountains. Coins in the names of Italian rulers (9th-10th century) from Lucca, Pavia and other uncertain mints show PbIC compatible with Melle, Black Forest and the Harz Mountains as well. A quite similar pattern applies to coins in the names of Otto I-III and Conrad II (10th-11th century) from Lucca and Pavia mints, although they show a better overlap with the Harz Mountains. The vast majority of early medieval coins issued by the Italian mints investigated in the present paper show isotope compositions that do not match with silver (lead-copper) mines from the Colline Metallifere district of southern Tuscany, notwithstanding their exploitation in the considered period is suggested by many settlements located near mining sites.
 
Article
The paper examines the continuities and changes in the firing technology applied from the 11th until the 15th century in the Byzantine glazed pottery production during the second firing that was necessary in order the lead-based glaze to be stabilized on the surface of the pre-fired biscuit-wares.
 
Article
This study uses bulk stable isotope analysis of carbon (δ¹³C) and nitrogen (δ¹⁵N) of bone collagen to investigate the diets of two deserted medieval villages, Apigliano and Quattro Macine, in Apulia, Southern Italy. The sampled cemeteries represent Latin Catholic and Greek Orthodox religious culture. The aim was to investigate potential inter- and intra-site variation (age, sex, faith, ethnicity, burial location) between these culturally diverse populations and place them in a wider medieval Italian context. Bone collagen was analysed from 103 humans and 33 animals. Sixty-eight humans were sampled from Apigliano (c.13th–15th centuries AD) and 35 individuals from Quattro Macine (c.11th–15th centuries AD). Non-adults, and adults of male, female and unknown sex and contemporaneous animals were sampled from both sites. The isotopic data indicates that both sites subsisted on a terrestrial C3-based diet with a limited intake of high trophic level protein from meat and fish, as indicated by low δ¹⁵N values. Diet of non-adults matched that of adults from five years of age at Apigliano, but Quattro Macine non-adults exhibit significantly depleted δ¹⁵N values. Variability in diet differed between the two settlements, with Apigliano demonstrating a greater range and higher δ¹⁵N values overall than Quattro Macine. We interpret the differential dietary patterning between sites as a result of socio-cultural and socio-economic factors. Comparison with isotopic data from other Medieval populations indicates trends in subsistence differences across the Italian Peninsula, particularly associated with the rural/urban nature of settlement and the local economy. This research adds new medieval dietary evidence from a geographical area previously unexplored using isotopic techniques.
 
Article
This paper presents the results of the first studies of non-destructive chemical and physical spectroscopic methods (Raman) applied to lithic artifacts recovered from five archaeological sites in the Pleistocene/Holocene transition of the Pampas region (Argentina). The aim of this paper is to identify the adhesions/alterations recognized in lithic stone tools and to discuss the different agents and taphonomic processes (natural and cultural) that created them. The results show that different chemical compounds (e.g., manganese, carbonate, phosphate, mineral pigments, organic compound [resin], etc.), were adhered to the surface of lithic artifacts as a result of natural processes and past human behavior. Furthermore, results obtained allow an understanding of the taphonomic agents that acted in the formation processes of archaeological sites and to generate a frame of reference to act as a control for assessing the impact that the mineral chemical dissolution and the occasional past human activity in the regional archaeological record of the eastern Tandilia range system.
 
Article
Monuments create permanent and predictable contexts and so they offered a particularly powerful way for past societies to reconfigure their landscapes in response to variable social and ecological factors. We examine the monumental landscape of the Late Precontact (ca. 1200–1600 CE) northern Great Lakes using a longstanding tool of landscape archaeology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In line with the growing recognition of the need to move beyond point-to-point GIS analyses to realize dynamic insights into past landscapes, we turned to multivariate total landscape geospatial modeling increasingly common in ecology. Specifically, we used a total landscape model of landforms—a compound, stable, and archaeologically relevant measure of landscape heterogeneity. We conducted a multi-scalar computation of Shannon's equitability to assess landform diversity in terms of both abundance and evenness and examined the positioning of monumental earthwork enclosures across north-central Michigan in relation to this measure. We found enclosures were non-randomly located in areas with high landform abundance and evenness, a nuanced positioning that patterned regionally but also relied on detailed, local socioecological knowledge. The positioning of earthwork enclosures in areas of increased landform diversity was one way indigenous communities crafted a monumental landscape to navigate the restricted social, economic, and ideological setting of Late Precontact (ca. 1200–1600 CE). Our study offers one example of the ways archaeologists can harness the power of geospatial technologies to gain insight into the variegated landscapes people inhabited in the past—places that were composed of ecology, other peoples, non-human beings and the constant flow of interactions between them.
 
Article
We report the chemical characterization of 13 ceramic shreds of the Cabuza phase (900–1200 CE) from northern Chile. In this decorative pottery, the red chromophore was hematite, while the black pigment was jacobsite. We also identified important secondary chemical elements, including arsenic. The discussion of all this evidence allowed us to reflect on the relationship between the individual and the environment, using the ceramics as cultural material.
 
Article
Summer 2015 marked the 100th anniversary of the excavation by J.W. Fewkes of the Sun Temple in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado; an ancient complex prominently located atop a mesa, constructed by the Pueblo Indians approximately 800 years ago. While the D-shaped structure is generally recognized by modern Pueblo Indians as a ceremonial complex, the exact uses of the site are unknown, although the site has been shown to have key solar and lunar alignments. In this study we examine the potential that the site was laid out using advanced knowledge of geometrical constructs. Using aerial imagery in conjunction with ground measurements, we performed a survey of key features of the site. We find strong evidence that the Pueblo natives laid out the site using the Golden rectangle, Pythagorean 3:4:5 triangles, equilateral triangles, and 45 degree right triangles. The survey also reveals that a single unit of measurement, L = 30.5+/-0.5 cm, appears to be associated with many key features of the site. These findings represent the first quantitative evidence of knowledge of advanced geometrical constructs in a prehistoric North American society, which is particularly remarkable given that the Pueblo Indians had no written alphabet or number system.
 
Article
This paper presents the preliminary results of the study of Cooking Ware from Late Bronze Age Khania (ca. 1450–1200 BCE), Crete. Cooking pots are often overlooked as an index of interconnections between different sites, as well as their role in understanding socio-political change. The research presented in this paper, however, stresses the significance of Cooking Ware in establishing relations and connectivity between sites of the LBA Aegean. This is especially crucial for the study of the transition from Neopalatial to Post-Palatial, a period characterised by socio-political upheavals. A total of 39 samples that cover all the periods were selected for petrographic analysis. The primary aim of this study is the characterisation of the local production of cooking pots and, subsequently, the investigation of imports and their provenance. A strong continuity in the local production is confirmed and imports from two other islands, Kythera and Aegina, have been identified. Aeginetan tripod cooking pots witnessed a wide distribution in the Aegean, but there was no evidence for their presence on Crete, until the present research.
 
Article
Mortuary contexts with multiple interments are among the many variations on pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican burial practices. Ancient societies in Oaxaca, Mexico are well known for burying their dead in both single and multiple graves. Tombs have long been interpreted as reflecting the elevated social status of the people buried within them. Multiple burials may also reflect variations in social identity, particularly when identifiable clusters of graves demonstrate variability. Such clusters may reveal variation according to gender, age, ethnicity, and/or social class. In this paper, we apply a bioarchaeological approach to the discussion of 42 sets of human remains in 41 Early Formative period (1400–1200 BCE) burial features from San Sebastián Etla in the Valley of Oaxaca. We contend that clusters of burials identified within this mortuary context reflect aspects of ancient identity and collective memory for those who produced and were interred at the site. Based on the spatial distribution of these burials, their depositional context and orientation, and the minimum number of individuals (MNI) identified at the site, the San Sebastián Etla mortuary context may represent a formal cemetery. If so, it would be among the oldest cemeteries not only in highland Oaxaca but also in all of Mesoamerica.
 
Article
The evidence presented in this paper is a first effort to contextualize aspects related to the sourcing, production and uses of red paint during the second millennium BC in Northern Peru. The site tested was Gramalote, a fishing settlement of the Peruvian North Coast. The results show that the inhabitants of this settlement had access to a local source of hematite but they also used cinnabar that came from a distant region located in the Southern Highlands. Based on the abundance of lithic and bone tools, shell containers and ceramic seal stamps, the authors of this article study the process behind the production of this painting. Using physicochemical techniques such as Portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology complemented with structural analysis through X-ray diffraction, applying conventional and synchrotron radiation on selected samples, the authors look at issues related to sourcing, production and uses of the red pigment. In addition, isotopic analysis helped to determine the provenience of cinnabar which is also the earliest evidence of human use of this mineral in the Andean region. Temporal and contextual distributions of these artifacts are analyzed to understand the manipulation and uses of the red paint. Finally, this study also gives a glimpse of the symbolic meaning red pigment could have played in the daily life of a second millennium BC maritime community on the Pacific coast of Peru.
 
Article
In 2016, the Proyecto Arqueológico Centro de Nicaragua (Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University) excavated the Barillas site (cal 1255–1391 CE), where a ceramic assemblage including griddles, or comales, was recovered. In this paper, we will discuss the previously understudied occurrence of this vessel shape in ancient central Nicaragua, which has been traditionally considered as a proxy to argue in favor of Mesoamerican migrations. Through a stratigraphic and technological approach to ceramic analysis, this research aims to reconstruct the socially learned practices involved in pottery manufacture. Therefore, macro-fabric analysis and thin section petrography are employed for characterizing clay procurement and preparation practices, as well as firing techniques. Additionally, a macro-trace examination of the sherds revealed fashioning, finishing, surface treatment, and decoration techniques, which were integrated with a morphometric study. The combination of different analytical approaches identifies the production of griddles as local. As a result, the dichotomy between indigenous and exogenous blurs, and innovations in vessel shape might have entangled the interweaving of shared foodways through networked practices, but do not imply arrival or displacement of local populations at Barillas.
 
Article
X-ray fluorescence analytical techniques were applied to two pieces of glass fragments because they are believed to be sampled from two pieces of important glassware, a facet-cut bowl and a deeply-blue colored dish, excavated from Niizawa Senzuka Tumulus No.126, Nara, Japan (late fifth century). Two different provenances were estimated as primary production area for the two glass fragments. One fragment has a chemical composition being a good match with that of Sasanian glass excavated at Veh Ardašīr in central Iraq. Conversely, composition of another fragment is consistent with common blue-green colored Roman glass manufactured during the imperial period. If these glass fragments are actually identical to the ancient glassware excavated from Nara, our results can provide scientific evidence how various cultures were introduced to and accepted by ancient Japan. Concomitantly, they are also evidence of an extremely widespread Silk Road trading from the Mediterranean and West Asia to the Far East of Japan during the 1st millennium AD.
 
Article
The Song Dynasty (960–1279 CE) was a prosperous period for China's maritime trade and also an era when coins flowed abroad. Song coins were not only used as currency in neighboring countries in East and Southeast Asia at the time, but also appear to have been used as metalwork. However, many details of both maritime history and numismatics have yet to be elucidated, and even comprehensive scholarly information on indigenous Chinese currency is incomplete. In this insufficient research situation, EDXRF, metallography, MC-ICP-MS and ICP-AES were employed to investigate the alloy composition, microstructure, lead isotope and trace element characteristics of 14 Song Dynasty coins from Nanhai No. Ⅰ shipwreck in this study. The XRF results show that all the samples are Cu-Sn-Pb ternary alloy. The metallography results show three types of as-cast microstructures. According to the lead isotope ratios, the diverse provenances of the lead material of the Nanhai No. Ⅰ coins are clearly different from the Japanese ancient coins. In addition, the trace element data suggest that the copper raw materials for the coins came from several mines. These preliminary results may provide background data to facilitate questions related to the maritime history of East and Southeast Asia.
 
Article
The ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife where the body of a dead person would be needed by the spirit. In order to preserve the deceased in as lifelike condition as possible they developed artificial mummification to a high level of sophistication. It is widely believed that natron was the main desiccation agent in the preparation of Egyptian mummified bodies in the 18th Dynasty. Natron is a natural mixture of sodium chloride, sodium sulphate, sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate found in the Nile Delta which has significant desiccation properties, but it is currently unclear if natron has further beneficial properties for the mummification process. Previous work indicates that it does not deter insect colonisation in general, although it has been found to act as a killing agent of blow flies. In particular, we are aware of no studies investigating the antibacterial activity of natron nor the wider investigation of the insect repellent nature of ancient Egyptian mummification resins. This study investigated the properties of ancient Egyptian embalming fluids alongside their application in an artificial mummification of a human body at the Medico-legal Centre in Sheffield, UK. Antibacterial assays were used to compare the activity of a modern day antibiotic (Chloramphenicol) to those of key embalming ingredients used in ancient Egypt (natron, palm wine and pine resin). In addition, a field study using rabbit carcasses investigated whether pine resin has insect repellent properties. Results demonstrated that palm wine and natron had higher antibacterial activity than Chlorophemical against the Gram-positive bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, and that natron had higher antibacterial activity than Chloramphenicol against the Gram-negative bacteria, Escherichia coli. The field study showed a delay in the colonisation of necrophagous insects and a temporal shift in the families of insects present on the carcasses treated with pine resin compared to control carcasses (no pine resin). We found no insect mortality on any of the carcasses during the study, indicating that the pine resin was acting as a repellent only and not as an insecticide. Although this is a preliminary study, the clear results strongly suggest that the embalming fluids used in mummification procedures during the 18th Dynasty had a number of properties which could affect the development of associated bacterial and insect communities.
 
Article
This paper presents an analysis of glazes of vessels unearthed in archaeological excavation in the Vega of Granada (south-east Spain) and that can be dated between the 9th and the 12th centuries AD. The material analysed includes the first glazed ceramics produced in Al-Andalus after the Islamic occupation of the Peninsula. From a very early period (mid to late-9th century) there is a coexistence of lead-alkaline monochrome (green and honey) glazed vessels, and of polychrome decorated (green, white and brown) tin-glazed, wares early examples of the so called green and manganese wares. From the 10th century onwards honey lead-alkaline glazed vessels often with manganese-painted decorations are found. The chemical composition of the ceramic pastes, glazes and decorations as well as of the microcrystallites present in the glazes is obtained from polished cross sections of the glazes by SEM-EDS, OM and EPM. Information about the materials and methods of production is discussed and compared to contemporary productions from other areas in Al Andalus and also to later productions.
 
Article
We resolve a longstanding question regarding the kinship of two high-status Egyptians from the 12th Dynasty, Nakht-Ankh and Khnum-Nakht, whose mummies were discovered in 1907 by Egyptian workmen directed by Flinders Petrie and Ernest Mackay. Although their coffin inscriptions indicate that Nakht-Ankh and Khnum-Nakht were brothers, when the mummies were unwrapped in 1908 the skeletal morphologies were found to be quite different, suggesting an absence of family relationship. We extracted ancient DNA from the teeth of the two mummies and, following hybridization capture of the mitochondrial and Y chromosome fractions, sequenced the DNA by a next generation method. Analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms showed that both Nakht-Ankh and Khnum-Nakht belonged to mitochondrial haplotype M1a1, suggesting a maternal relationship. The Y chromosome sequences were less complete but showed variations between the two mummies, indicating that Nakht-Ankh and Khnum-Nakht had different fathers. Our study emphasizes the importance of kinship in ancient Egypt, and represents the first successful typing of both mitochondrial and Y chromosomal DNA in Egyptian mummies.
 
Article
In this paper petrographic and NAA analyses of two categories of ceramic wares of the early medieval Vega of Granada (southeast Spain) are presented. The vessels analysed include Water Containers and Glazed Wares and were manufactured between the sixth and the twelfth centuries CE. This is the period of the Islamization of Iberia and the emergence of al-Andalus. The studies in this paper offer an opportunity to understand technological, social and economic changes that were part of the pattern of Islamization. The results of this work show that there is a differential pattern of distribution for the samples studied in the eastern and western areas of the Vega and that there is a chronological change in technological variability of the production of the wares under investigation. An earlier period in which this variability is high gave way to a period where the variability is much less and potentially more standardised technological procedures were followed.
 
Article
In the early Late Bronze Age of the Seine-Yonne and Seine-Aube confluences in northern France, novel funerary practices include the repeated use of a seated position (i.e. with the vertebral column in a vertical position) of the deceased within a container, most often a rigid one, placed in a pit whose diameter rarely exceeds 1. m. The use of these graves does not appear to be limited solely to the deposition of the deceased, as re-opening and post-inhumation activities have also been identified. Many of these graves contain animal bones, sometimes in large quantities, above or next to the human remains. Furthermore, anthropogenic interventions, including bone removal during or after decomposition of the corpse, can be demonstrated. These practices are particularly well illustrated among the 136 buried individuals in the "Frécul" necropolis in the Barbuise and La Saulsotte areas (Aube). Thirty-six individual graves were also re-used for successive inhumations at Barbey "Les Cent Arpents" (Seine-et-Marne). We propose hypotheses about the way these funerary structures were used, following a sort of bone-collecting process, and reflect upon the funerary programme of which they were a part.
 
Article
Forty-one ceramic boxes from the twelfth- or thirteenth-century Java Sea Shipwreck were analyzed at the Elemental Analysis Facility at Chicago's Field Museum using nondestructive portable x-ray fluorescence (PXRF). Twenty-two samples have a qingbai-type glaze and nineteen are painted ware with painted black decorations originally covered by a lead-based green glaze. The goals of the analysis were to (1) test whether visually similar ceramics shared similar elemental compositions; (2) identify ceramics that might have been made at different kiln sites (or from different paste recipes); and (3) determine if compositional groups in the ceramic dataset differentiated using PXRF are archaeologically meaningful. Based on this study, although PXRF can be successfully used to some degree to differentiate between different groups of qingbai-type ceramics, more research needs to be done on its applicability to painted ware pastes.
 
Article
There is little direct archaeological evidence as to the agriculture and plant gathering of the Guanches, the indigenous population of the Island of Tenerife (3rd–15th century CE). The current study presents the findings of the first systematic samplings and analyses of macro-botanical remains (wood charcoals and seeds) from Guanche contexts in Tenerife. The remains come from two recently excavated, well-contextualised sites, Chasogo and Cruz de Tea, ranging between the 13–17th centuries AD. This timeframe coincides with the last phase of the indigenous occupation and the period of colonisation by Europeans. The sites are in the Cañadas del Teide National Park, a highland volcanic caldera at c. 2000 m a.s.l. The results of this study, based on archaeobotanical identifications coupled with radiocarbon datings, suggest that most of the finds correspond to wild plants collected for food, fuel, and possibly timber. Noteworthy are the seeds of Cistus cf. osbeckiifolius which certifies the vital role of this local edible plant. Pinus canariensis and Visnea mocanera were also gathered for consumption while woody legumes and pines served for fuel and timber. Spartocytisus cf. supranubius may also have been consumed in the form of seeds. The only evidence of a crop plant consumed by the Guanches is barley (Hordeum vulgare subsp. vulgare). This crop, poorly represented, must have been brought to these sites from the lowlands where it was cultivated. The different data suggest a highly mobile pastoral population taking part in seasonal activities such as rotary quern making.
 
Top-cited authors
Michael Richards
  • Simon Fraser University
Michael D. Glascock
  • University of Missouri
Christopher J Knüsel
  • University of Bordeaux
Ellery Frahm
  • Yale University
Florent Rivals
  • Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social