Another Great Week

Dear Friends of AIA-Houston,

Our recent talk by Sadie Watson of the Museum of Archaeology London, about the Roman-period “Bloomberg dig” in the City, was fascinating not only for what it found but for the light it shed on the interactions between Romans and the multiple distinct tribal cultures of Britain. Though there had been cross-Channel trade for some time, “Londinium” barely existed before the Romans landed, bringing—among much else—gladiatorial contests, the Mithraic religion, and cockroaches. Dr. Watson also talked to almost a dozen school groups before her visit ended.

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There has been a lot of other interesting archaeological news lately. A huge cairn some 5000 years old—thus predating both Stonehenge and the Pyramids—has been discovered near Safed, in Israel, according to Sci-News. More than 150 meters long, seven meters high and crescent-shaped, the purpose of the “Joshua Cairn” is unknown, but it may have something to do with worship of the moon god Sin.

CT scans or autopsies of mummies ranging in age from Ötzi (5300 years old) through ancient Egyptians, Peruvians (third to sixth centuries), Pueblo Indians (1000 years ago), a Renaissance king, a Gobi Desert nomad (15th century) to Aleutian hunter-gatherers of the 19th century all reveal calcium deposits in the arteries: atherosclerosis. Science News quotes a UCLA cardiologist as saying that “even in an environment where exercise was abundant and fast food was nonexistent,” people still developed, and presumably died of, cardiovascular disease.

Archaeologists are using a revolutionary new deep-sea diving suit for the first time to explore the shipwreck where one of the most remarkable scientific objects of antiquity was found in 1900: the so-called Antikythera Mechanism which we featured in a talk two years ago with Dr. Mike Edmunds, Director of the Antikythera Project. The Exosuit, which looks like a cross between medieval armor and a NASA space suit, allows them to dive safely to 150 meters—more than double SCUBA depths—and stay safely at the bottom for longer, Agence France Press reported. The archaeologists, from Greece’s Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, believe many other artifacts are yet to be discovered in and around the wreck and also hope to confirm the presence of another wreck some 250 meters away from the first.

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Finally, talk at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston last Sunday with hairdressing archaeologist Janet Stephens was absolutely fascinating. A camera projected close-up images onto the Museum’s large screen of the two young women who had their hair done alla Romana during the lecture-demonstration. Students at Yes Prep and Memorial High School had the opportunity to learn about how clothing and hair make the man, and woman it two lecture/demonstrations. A hair-raising experience for everyone!

Best wishes,

Rob Arndt
President, AIA-Houston