Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Colchester's Become an Archaeologist for the Day

If you're anywhere near Colchester, England and have any dreams of living as an archaeologist for the day, now's your chance. Colchester's Archaeological Trust is holding a two-tiered photography competition, one for 11-16 year olds, and one for 16 years and up. The aim is to encourage people to discover Colchester on a deeper level. Deadline for submissions is August 1st.

Read the full article and find out how to enter the competition on the Daily Gazette's website here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Egypt's Avenue of Sphinxes Now Open

If you visit Karnak and Luxor, two of Egypt's most impressive temples and tourist attractions, you will no doubt see a portion of the Avenue of Sphinxes. Once upon a time the Avenue of Sphinxes joined the two locations, providing a processional route between summer and winter palaces. Built over 3000 years ago, this Avenue has been weathered by it's most ancient enemy, sand. However, archaeologists have been working hard to uncover the first portion of the two-mile stretch and it is now open to the public. Unfortunately, the opening of the Avenue had drawn much international controversy, because in the rush to open the Avenue, many potential archaeological sites have been destroyed.

Read the story in the UK's Times Online here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Persephone: Heralding in Spring

At this time of the year, around the Spring Equinox, and thankfully, as the crocuses are finally beginning to bloom, I am reminded of Persephone, the Greek Goddess who represents Springtime. Despite the fact that she is often depicted covered with flowers, she is also known as the Queen of the Underworld. Often the Greek Gods and Goddesses are depicted in this dual manner, showing their light and their dark sides. Even Persephone's entrance into the Underworld is seen in a dual light. In one, she gladly strides into the Underworld, becomes Hades' bride and co-rules with him, sorting out the souls. In another, she is abducted, and it is this image that is most commonly viewed in painting and sculpture.

Laura Strong has a reinterpretation of the former myth, one where Persephone takes matters into her own hand. Read the story, read her interpretation, and check out her sources on Mythic Arts site here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A New Trick for the Alpaca

In Peru, an alpaca named Pisco is making the news, or rather, riding the waves. Domingo Pianezzi has surfed with a variety of animals, but has now moved on to the alpaca. This is one of those ridiculously cute photos, not only because the alpaca is on a surfboard, but also because it is wearing surfgear. I suppose it's a good things alpacas can't talk, because I could guess what this one would say...

Photo taken from Metro.co.uk's website. See the full story here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Anglo Saxons Get A-Head

Typically when one reads a story about Vikings, the story is about the poor village/town/community that was ransacked, razed, pillaged (need I continue?). This archaeological discovery caught my attention because here, the victims are the Vikings themselves, in fact, young men around 20-30 years old. Even more notable than their age is the fact that they are all missing their heads.

According to BBC News, "Archaeologists from Oxford believe the men were probably executed by local Anglo Saxons in front of an audience sometime between AD 910 and AD 1030." There are fifty-one of these skeletons so far, and with that, it makes it one of the largest mass burials of executed foreigners. They were discovered in Weymouth Ridgeway, where Anglo Saxons were increasingly at the mercy of the Vikings.

Apparently they found a way to stand together and remove the threat.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Where I'd Like to Go: Arizona's "The Wave"

A product of wind, rain and time, "The Wave" is located close to where Arizona and Utah meet. Made of sandstone, and incredibly fragile, the rock itself seems to undulate and shift like the ocean. This is one of the rare places where earth and water are one. The trek to find The Wave is what draws hikers to this location from all around the world. Only twenty permits per day are given out for the privilege, ten by reservation, and ten by lottery that morning. For those who succeed in getting a permit, it is a three mile hike each way across open desert with a 350 foot climb. There is no formal trail to The Wave, and many of those who gain permits, never actually find it. Something to check off of my list indeed.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Eggshells: A New Form of Communication

According to researchers, a recently collected cache of ostrich eggshells were used as symbolic methods of communication among African hunter-gathers 60,000 years ago. These shells have been collected over a period of the last few years at Diepkloof Rock Station in South Africa by the University of Bordeaux. Two hundred and seventy in all, this is a large enough sample to demonstrate that Stone Age people created design traditions. Some of these eggshells also have holes in them, demonstrating that they were used as canteens.

Read about the eggshell cache and see a sample of the finds on news.discovery.com here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Where I'd Like to Go: Australia's Lajamanu

A remote village in the Australian desert has once again witnessed an event that could be comparable to the phrase "raining cats and dogs". But this time it was fish that rained upon the small village, spangled perch to be more specific. These perch are common to Australia, but not in Lajamanu. The nearest perch to this remote location is over 326 miles away. Even more impressive is that the fish were alive when they hit the ground. Australian meteorologists are chalking this up to conditions that were perfect for a tornado and lifted the fish up in the air to deposit them somewhere else.

Read about it on Metro.co.uk's weird section here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chestita Baba Marta!

The Balkan Heritage Field School sent me this interesting tidbit about Bulgarian culture and one of their ancient pagan customs.

These first few days of March will see the Bulgarians wearing red and white in deference to Baba Marta, a grumpy old lady whose mood swings symbolize the end of winter and beginning of spring. Bulgarians exchange red and white tassels and small dolls called Pizho and Penda in the hopes of bringing each other good fortune and happiness. They also wish to appease Baba Marta so that she will bring spring faster.

These dolls, depending on where you live in Bulgaria, are removed in a ritualistic fashion. Some hang them on trees to give the tree health and some hide them under a rock with the idea that the person/animal to be closest to the rock will determine the giver's health for the season.

Wikipedia has a great article about Martenitsa. Read about it here.