Journal Watch: Recent Articles in Anthropology & Archaeology Journals

Archaeometry
The Discovery of Anomalously High Silver Abundances in Pottery from Early Roman Excavation Contexts in Jerusalem

The authors report on a study of chemical compositions in over one thousand diachronically collected artifacts of Roman-period pottery from 38 sites in Israel. They then hypothesize the presence of silver artifacts at this or other strata that introduced corroded silver to the pottery via aqueous transport. The silver artifacts, they suggest, may have been part of the wealth of Jewish citizens, hidden underground from the Romans in the first century CE.

International Journal of Nautical Archaeology
Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield: H.L. Hunley and USS Housatonic.

Conlin and Russell offer a well written discussion that summarizes the events of the battle between the H.L. Hunley and the USS Housatonic on XXX. For this reason only, the article is of value to the lay-person interested in U.S. Civil War naval battles. There’s a lot of juicy material for the archaeologist as well, which includes some discussions of the methods used in the field to obtain the data on positioning, dating, etc. The authors stress the importance of the work at this nautical site:

“As an event of world history, this first-ever engagement between a submarine and a surface ship deserves evaluation in the broadest possible historical, archaeological and humanistic context. Treating the linked shipwrecks as a naval battlefield is the beginning of that process.”

Best of all, this is a free issue of the Int. J. of Nautical Archaeology

Journal of Archaeological Science
The spiral that vanished

At Castlerigg stone circle in England, just off the A66 near Keswick sits a stone on which there was once a spiral. At one time, this spiral was believed to have been etched or carved on Stone number 11 of the circle, and a rubbing and photos exist of it, but the spiral has since vanished.

In this article in the Journal of Archaeological Science, Diaz-Andreu and her colleagues apply new, non-invasive methods of recording to the stone in order to reveal trace evidence of the spiral: laser scanning; multispectral imaging; CEI (contrast/contour enhancing illumination); MASS (multiple angle surface saturation); LASP (laser surface profiling); and ultraviolet fluorescence. LASP, it should be noted, is a different process than laser scanning and is differentiated in the article.

The results of the article are two-fold: 1) its revealed that there was no etching or carving of the spiral, which means the spiral was “painted” on, perhaps even in modernity; and 2) non-invasive, non-destructive methods are demonstrated which avoid direct contact with the rock surface and preserve the artifact itself as well as producing high-quality imaging with highest objectivity and precision.

Journal of Anthropological Archaeology
The southern dispersal hypothesis and the South Asian archaeological record: Examination of dispersal routes through GIS analysis.

The authors (Field et al 2006) of this work utilize Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyze probable dispersion routes in the expansion of modern humans out of Africa. Their analyses include GIS data that incorporates “least cost route” values derived from actual slopes on the ground: routes “up and across steep slopes are more costly in terms of energy expenditure and foraging than across flat landscapes.”

Field and her colleagues conclude with their data that GIS analysis of “least cost routes” predicts that modern humans entered Asia 59-74 thousand years ago along coastal routes that began south of the Zagros Mountains that moved eastward along the Indian coast, diverting inland along the Indus and Narmada River valleys.

What’s interesting about this article, in addition to the hypothesis about modern human dispersal, is the use of GIS, a technology that is fast gaining popularity and use in the field of archaeology.

Take a look at a free issue of Archaeometry (February 2006), courtesy of Blackwell Synergy.

References

Adan-Bayewitz, D., Asaro, F., & Giauque, R. (2006, August). The Discovery of Anomalously High Silver Abundances in Pottery from Early Roman Excavation Contexts in Jerusalem. Archaeometry, 48(3), 377-398.

Conlin, D. L., & Russell, M. A. (2006, April). Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield: H.L. Hunley and USS Housatonic. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 35(20), 20.

Diaz-Andreu, M., Brooke, C., Rainsbury, M., & Rosser, N. (2006, In Press). The spiral that vanished: The application of non-contact recording techniques to an elusive rock art motif at Castlerigg stone circle in Cumbria. Journal of Archaeological Science, In Press,

Field, J. S., Petraglia, M. D., & Lahr, M. M. (2006, In Press). The southern dispersal hypothesis and the South Asian archaeological record: Examination of dispersal routes through GIS analysis. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, In Press.