Antiquity's Spring Issue


Spring has reputedly reached certain areas way south of where I still shovel snow daily, and with it comes Antiquity's spring issue. This is of course an intensely interesting journal, and not solely because the summer issue will feature that opinion piece of mine that I quoted from on the blog recently. In the following are some highlights. All links will give you abstracts and then present you with a pay wall.

  • Lisa Hodgetts of the University of Western Ontario (!) offers a paper on lithics & bone sites of the period 2400-1800 cal BC, located on the Fjord of Varanger, an area that is north of Sweden and Finland and more easterly than most of the latter country. We're talking waaay north. Explains the editor, "[T]he faunal assemblage shows that some [groups in the area] are seal specialists, while others hunt reindeer and others again ambush dolphins."
  • Landscape-spanning rows of standing stones are not uncommon in the UK and NW France, with Carnac being a famous example (and a book about that site is reviewed in the spring issue). But dating them is tricky. Ralph M. Fyfe and Tom Greeves of the University of Plymouth have investigated one in Dartmoor that has fortuitously been covered by peat, allowing radiocarbon dating of material both under the stones and on top of them. The stone row is surprisingly old, dating from the later 4th millennium cal BC. Good palaeoenvironmental work and interpretations are also offered.
  • S. Leach et al. report on skeletal analyses of a rich Late Roman female burial from York, where the woman in question most likely had the looks of combined African-European ancestry. The authors conclude,

    "All evidence (unusual burial rite, unusual ancestry, strontium and oxygen isotope data) taken together can make a convincing case for an incomer to Roman York who was of high status. ... her oxygen isotope signature makes it unlikely that she grew up in York. Rather, it places her at the western edge of Britain or, perhaps more likely, an area of similar 'warm' climate on the Continent. ... The craniomorphometric analysis suggests that she may have been of 'mixed race' ancestry. In cosmopolitan Eboracum, which had been home to Severus and his troops nearly 200 years earlier, perhaps her appearance was not that unusual."

    I'm not quite comfortable with the editor's characterisation of the lady as a "glamorous mixed-race woman", though. Was he thinking of Donna Summer?

  • Last October I reported that the Danes are running Late Bronze Age urn burials through CT scanners. So are the Italians, with Etruscan burials, and they've beat the Danes to publication. (This has been done before by the Germans, though.)

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From the Varanger link:
"Each was creating its own local environment, hunting territory and landscape, not defended but respected, with intimate connections between people and places."
How can they know that?
I'm sure they were living in a matriarchal society in harmony with nature as well :-)

By Jon KÃ¥re Hellan (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink

Yeah, that's a little silly. And the chronological resolution really doesn't allow study of which site is coeval with which.