Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cotton Henge to be Bulldozed

Cotton Henge, a 4,000 year old ditched enclosure, will be dozed to make room for a new warehouse that will go out of business in 4 years.  Video interviews in the link.

"Growing anger over new development on top of prehistoric monument"  ITV



I want to put this in context so you can be properly pissed.  The developer and land owner already knew of the existence of the Neolithic ditched enclosure.  Features like this are clearly marked on the plat, the geological-topographical survey, county maps, archaeological surveys and numerous other documents.  > and websites Megalithic UK

Most of the time, springs, mines, small cemeteries, old wells and other such features are marked on the documents used to transfer property.  So if you want to build a warehouse, don't buy a tract and pretend you didn't know there was a 4,000 year old ditched enclosure when you signed the papers.

As a land owner, depending on the country, you have full legal rights to a tract of land including all minerals, water courses, surface and timber rights, so long as they are properly conveyed without reservations.  However, if that tract of land contains a small cemetery or items of archaeological significance you do not have the power to control those because they ARE THE NATURAL RESERVATION of the former owners (or at least a public interest).  You don't have rights to certain waters, easements or public concerns, like hunting endangered species or damming up a navigable creek.

What has happened here is that the developer is claiming that he has been unfairly burdened by the "discovery of an relatively unimportant archaeological site" and that rescue archaeology is the reasonable compromise to satisfy archaeology and development.  Look closely at what their doing.

Here's the thing.  Try to build a picket fence in the village of Cotton without fifty permits from the county and get shot down every time because of the thrity thousand regulations in the building code.  This is a fast-talking company that is twisting the ethical norms for a cheap return.  They give two shits about the local people or their heritage.

The long term damage isn't the loss of one archaeological site, it's that the very concept of rescue archaeology is damaged by shenanigans like this.  Plus the definition of what rescue archaeology is expanded from "oh crap, our dozer hit a stone cist" to one in which the archaeologists drive up to a site driving a cement mixer.  The mutual cooperation and trust between developers, archaeologists, city planners, private property owners, and the citizenry is eroded.  That isn't good for anybody.

See also,
Northhamptonshire Telegraph




Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Likely Beaker in Looe

Following the untimely passing of Jean Manco, a fitting follow-on in the West Country.

Dr. Katherin Frieman of Austrailian National University begins excavation Easter Sunday on an Early Bronze Age barrow outside the fishing village of Looe in Cornwall. Heritage Daily and Science Daily.

Pasture outside Looe (Looe fishing tours)
It sounds like a respectable grave in tin country, hopefully Dr. Frieman will keep the newspaper photographers busy!

*Update 4/19.  Excavators discovered a burial urn.  Will add link later.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Jean Manco (in memoriam)

I just read from Anthrogenica that Jean Manco passed away Palm Sunday from cancer.  Very sad to hear.

She wrote several books about the peopling of Europe and she commented on Beakerblog a few times.  Jean also wrote about the architectural history of Bath and Bristol and spent her career in the West Country.


Funny how things work, sometimes we cross paths in different times and in different ways.  She was an expert on Bath Abbey.  Several of my ancestors are buried in the Bath abbey, and I'm grateful for Jean and those that preserve the past and seek to learn more about it.

Her avatar in various forums and websites was the Owl of Athena, which had a special significance to her in the quest for ancient truths and appreciation for wisdom and the arts.  She will be missed.


Sincerest Condolences to her family.

Biography at archaeology wiki


Jean speaking "Who are the Celts?" Youtube

Eursasians, Iberomaurusians & Bell Beakers

With some new genomics data coming out of North Africa, let's try and wring out some potential implications for our interest, the Beaker Phenomenon. (Pleistocene North African genomes link Near Eastern and Sub-Saharan African human populations" Van de Loosdrecht et al, 2018)



Here's the recent history of West North Africa based on the last several studies.

1.  Iberomaurusian is an ancient, distinct and persistent ancestry in northwestern and northcentral North Africans.  Both Natufians and Iberomaurusians have a low (6-7%) affinity to Yoruba, but Yoruba itself has a chunk of something weird in about the same frequency.  A ghost may be lurking the corridors.
Anyhow, the picture is somewhat muddled for this genetic group since we're still mostly using modern Africans to model ancient and highly diverged ones.  The important takeaway though is this, we can firmly name those components associated with the local Paleolithic and any newcomers.

2.  In the epi-Paleolithic/Neolithic transition around the coast of Morocco, the first Cardium Neolithic ancestry significantly adds to Iberomaurusian rather than replacing it.  We see this in Fregel et al, 2017.
That's important because if any Neolithic population were to leave this area and venture into Neolithic Europe, it would certainly carry this Iberomaurusian component to some minor degree.  If Early Neolithic Atlantic Europeans don't have any trace of this in future analyses, then that severely challenges any role North Africa would have in the Neolithization of the western coast of Europe.

3.  A very strong pulse of Continental European ancestry enters Late Neolithic North Africa that appears proportionally similar to some populations in the Middle Neolithic of France and Germany, notably the Salzmunde and Baalberge. Fregel et al, 2017 This is where a lot of questions keep coming back.

First of all, the maternal profiles of some Oasis Berber and Canary populations are similar to the haplogroup frequencies associated with some MN populations of Western Europe.  It's clear there is some ancient shared ancestry beyond blood alleles and mtdna, and no it's not Roman or Medieval.

When we look at the ethnogenesis of Fula people in the Senegal-Gambia region, we have several odd things to look at.

It looks as if R1b-V88 in North Africa comes recently from Southern Europe, which itself is not surprising.  What is surprising is that the time frame in which V88 would branch from Southern Europe (Sardinia?, this study; Iberia?) and that it puts us within an archaeological timeframe in which there is heavy communication between Iberia and NW Africa.  In the Beaker period, there appear to be cultural inflows and outflows, but a lot of directionality in the Beaker period.  Then there is the presence of T-13910 in Africa which needs some splain'n.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe all of the Barcelona Bell Beakers were T-13910, which is interesting given the fact that the same Paris Street Beaker males were also R1b-V88 or close.
There's many aspects to this, but at this point I don't care.  Bring forth the DNA!!