Archaeological Work in Progress

I don’t normally share my professional work on this blog but thought it might be of interest.  We were out re-recording a rock shelter yesterday known for some rather mysterious pictographs.  Mysterious in that they are vague and probably mostly wiped out due to weathering.  Only the protected portions of the shelter contain clear images and only one image is a petroglyph (pecked as opposed to painted).

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Looking for hidden glyphs.

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There are no clear cultural symbols that would tie these panels to a single time period or affiliation but there are some hints at an Archaic connection (or at least stories about the Archaic).  It is strongly suspected that the site has been known and has been collected on for at least two centuries as Europeans  had a presence here since the early 18th century.  This may account for the complete lack of diagnostic artifacts on the site.  However, diagnostic points have been collected nearby and show a strong association with the Missouri Late Archaic tradition in the form of Langtry points.

Hope you enjoy some vicarious archaeology.

Romans Loved the Celts


Image: from the Texas Coritani Iron Age Living History Group.

“Nearly all the Gauls (Celts) are of a lofty stature, fair and ruddy complexion: terrible from the sternness of their eyes, very quarrelsome, and of great pride and insolence.  A whole troupe of foreigners would not be able to withstand a single Gaul if he called his wife to his assistance who is usually very strong, and have blue eyes; in rage her neck veins swell, she gnashes her teeth, and brandishes her snow-white robust arms.  She begins to strike blows mingled with kicks, as if they were so many missiles sent from the string of a catapult.  The voices of these women are formidable, even when they are not angry but being friendly.”

Ammianus Marcellinus, 4th century Roman (of Greek origin) soldier and historian.

An open-minded scholar for his day with famous observations about both pagan and christian fanatics.  From the Res Gestae that “no wild beasts are so deadly to humans as most Christians are to each other.”  Too true today even.

“Marcellinus writes of Christianity as being a pure and simple religion that demands only what is just and mild, and when he condemns the actions of Christians, he does not do so on the basis of their Christianity as such.”

More Marcellinus in English and in Latin.

30,000 year old mammoth

A couple of months ago, Yevgeny Salinder, an 11 year old Russian boy, discovered a 30,000 year old mammoth thawing from the permafrost in the arctic Krasnoyarsk region. I have been hoping to hear more about this remarkable find but, of course, these things take time.


There is already some important information coming out about this find, including the discovery of large fat storage in the form of a hump on the mammoth’s back, confirming images from the Pleistocene depicting the humped back.  Previously the hump in the art work was attributed to large thoracic spines but now it seems to be more camel-like soft tissue.  Intact organs should tell us more about the animal and it’s environment than we have known.  As the Arctic ice recedes, it seems we will find more and more of these specimens being exposed.

Links to this story can be found here: