Weekly Roundup of Archaeology, History and Historical Fiction June 10-16

Here are some posts I enjoyed from around the web this week:

Amarna Ruins, Residential area, photo by Kurohito on Wikimedia Commons

Amarna Ruins, Residential area, photo by Kurohito on Wikimedia Commons

This is one of the more tragic cemeteries I can imagine. At Amarna, the short-lived city of the religiously singular Pharaoh Akenaten, they have found a cemetery with almost all the bodies of adolescent years. Usually adolescent bones show robust health, just because time hasn’t done its damage, but these poor souls were worked so hard and starved and abused so much their bones tell a very troubled story. No grave goods and stacked bodies in single graves indicate no family around. For these young people, slave labor day after day without any normal human connections. Akenaten built his new capital quickly (the city was built and abandoned in a span of 15 years) and now we know who suffered to make that happen. The archaeologist described their growing realization of what this particular cemetery held “creepy.” Unimaginably creepy. I hope there was some small joy in the lives of these young people that we can’t see from here. Click here for The Guardian “Did Children Build the Ancient City of Amarna?”

Analyzing DNA from mummies hasn’t been all that doable, but recently a cross study of mummies over about 1,000 years from one site has been achieved. Interestingly, ancient Egyptians are more genetically related to other Near Eastern peoples, modern Egyptians more with Sub-Saharan Africans. Researchers hypothesize increased mobility on the Nile and trade, including slave traffic, with Sub-Saharan Africa in the last 2,000 years. In the ancient period, Egypt was tightly interconnected with all of the Near East by trade, wars, politics, etc. Interesting what comes from ancient DNA. Click here for Archaeology News Network “The first genome data from ancient Egyptian mummies”

Photo by Leptictidium on Wikimedia Commons

Apparently cat skin coats were a fashion thing in the Medieval period. Found in Spain: a pit of the bones from 900 cats that show characteristic marks of the skinning process. (Experiments show what bones look like when skinning is involved—don’t ask…) Domestic cat skins weren’t as desirable as wildcats and were used by the poor and nuns. Nuns? This is so depressing. Evidence of this dubious Medieval fashion has been found in England and Ireland also, so don’t blame Spaniards. And both in Christian and Muslim areas of Spain. A universal practice. If you time travel back, don’t bring your cat. Although I suppose why is it worse for a domestic cat than a wildcat? And the whole anti-fur awareness hadn’t gotten started yet. But still. I’m disturbed by this news. Click here for Live Science “Medieval Farmers May Have Skinned Cats for Pagan Rituals”

 

Roman bath model with the familiar piles supporting the floor of the hotroom which is what I see peeking out in the ruins being dug in Chichester, photo by Arent Wikimedia Commons

Roman bath model with the familiar piles supporting the floor of the hotroom which is what I see peeking out in the ruins being dug in Chichester, photo by Arent Wikimedia Commons

2 Roman townhouses w/ a bathhouse uncovered in a park in Chichester, England. You’ll see familiar supports for the hot room in the photos, as with any large Roman bath. Quite an extensive set of bathing rooms. Locals intrigued by the find were invited to join in as archaeological volunteers. That’s one way of making the ruination of the park lawns a popular move with the residents. Click here for Archaeology News Network “Private bath house from Roman Chichester unearthed”

An ASOR blog post on the influence of Sumerian art on Modern artists, sculpture, painting, literature. In the 1920’s until WWII were the “golden age” of Mesopotamian archaeology and the widespread mark the discoveries made is intriguing. Click here for ASOR “Sumerian Art and Modern Art from Gudea to Miró”

 

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