14 posts · 15,880 views
Comments on ancient science and the science of ancient things.
The short version of this post is that Astronomy in the Upper Palaeolithic? by Hayden & Villeneuve is a great paper. If you’re interested in astronomy in hunter-gatherer societies you should read it. I’m going to disagree with some parts of the paper below, but if Hayden & Villeneuve are wrong about some things, then [...]... Read more »
Jo Marchant has reported on a new paper, On the trail of Vikings with polarized skylight: experimental study of the atmospheric optical prerequisites allowing polarimetric navigation by Viking seafarers, for Nature news. She also adds more on her own blog including the link to the paper that you can access for free. The research is [...]... Read more »
Horvath, G., Barta, A., Pomozi, I., Suhai, B., Hegedus, R., Akesson, S., Meyer-Rochow, B., & Wehner, R. (2011) On the trail of Vikings with polarized skylight: experimental study of the atmospheric optical prerequisites allowing polarimetric navigation by Viking seafarers. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 366(1565), 772-782. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0194
I’ve been trying to watch Cosmos by Carl Sagan. I’ve never seen it and it’s proving to be a bit of a struggle. He definitely can write. Some of the sequences are fantastic, but some of it is badly dated. The thing that really grates to me is his dismissal of Ptolemy and his geocentric... Read more »
Graney, C.M. (2010) The Telescope Against Copernicus: Star Observations by Riccioli Supporting a Geocentric Universe. Journal for the History of Astronomy, 41(4), 453-467. info:/
Looking from the outside, one of the most underrated areas of archaeological research at the moment is the Archaeology of the Pacific. It’s possible to make exciting discoveries anywhere in the world. In Polynesia though, it’s hard not to. The reason is that Polynesian archaeology has an odd contradiction. There’s been some excellent research done... Read more »
Petchey, F., Spriggs, M., Leach, F., Seed, M., Sand, C., Pietrusewsky, M., & Anderson, K. (2011) Testing the human factor: radiocarbon dating the first peoples of the South Pacific. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(1), 29-44. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2010.07.029
Studying astronomy in culture should be simple. There’s only so much that is visible by the naked eye, and it follows predictable patterns. Modern astronomy means that we can reconstruct what was visible anywhere in the world in human history, within certain boundaries for errors. If we know what happens when, then studying a culture... Read more »
Clarke, P.A. (2007) An Overview of Australian Aboriginal Ethnoastronomy. Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture, 39-58. info:/
I’m currently working at the Annals of Botany to help out with their social media side. There’s a bit more to it than subtly dropping links to their site, like this one. At the moment I’m struggling with the Facebook integration, but there’s a fun side too. I wouldn’t have browsed AoB if I’d not... Read more »
Mercader, J., Bennett, T., Esselmont, C., Simpson, S., & Walde, D. (2009) Phytoliths in woody plants from the Miombo woodlands of Mozambique. Annals of Botany, 104(1), 91-113. DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcp097
Mathematicians have a concept, Omega, that is defined as something so huge that any attempt to define it actually defines something smaller. In a similar vein I reckon that any attempt to describe the ingenuity of the Antikythera Mechanism actually ends up describing something less ingenious instead. More research on the device has been published [...]... Read more »
Evans, J., Carman, C.C., & Thorndike, A.S. (2010) Solar Anomaly and Planetary Displays in the Antikythera Mechanism. Journal for the History of Astronomy, 41(1), 1-39. info:/
“What is heritage?” sounds like the kind of essay question a lecturer might set when they run out of inspiration. It depends where you ask it. In some places it’s a question that carries a sting for the unwary. In the UK it’s almost always old buildings. Sometimes it’s very old buildings, but we build [...]... Read more »
Morrison, M., McNaughton, D., & Shiner, J. (2010) Mission-Based Indigenous Production at the Weipa Presbyterian Mission, Western Cape York Peninsula (1932–66). International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 14(1), 86-111. DOI: 10.1007/s10761-009-0096-8
I’m not planning to blog a lot on the Astronomical Orientation of Ancient Greek Temples as is openly accessible. Your comments are going to carry a lot more weight there than here. But I’ll try and keep track of what other people are saying elsewhere. I’m expecting this to be the first paper of a [...]... Read more »
Salt, A. (2009) The Astronomical Orientation of Ancient Greek Temples. PLoS ONE, 4(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007903
Imagine you had left where you were as part of an arranged marriage. Your new life was in a very different place where the climate, the crops and even the air was different to what you had known. You could settle and try and adapt to your new life away from the family you had [...]... Read more »
Costa, M., Matheson, C., Iachetta, L., Llagostera, A., & Appenzeller, O. (2009) Ancient Leishmaniasis in a Highland Desert of Northern Chile. PLoS ONE, 4(9). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006983
ome posts take quite a while to write. This is a response to Candy Minx and Martin Rundkvist who were discussing the Antikythera Mechanism in 2006. Candy Minx thought the Antikythera Mechanism was an expression of what was already known and embedded in a society through things like myth and ritual. Martin thought that the mechanism was far more complex. Originally I planned to write a fence-sitting compromise. Here it is. This is science turned up to 11.... Read more »
Freeth, T., Bitsakis, Y., Moussas, X., Seiradakis, J., Tselikas, A., Mangou, H., Zafeiropoulou, M., Hadland, R., Bate, D., Ramsey, A.... (2006) Decoding the ancient Greek astronomical calculator known as the Antikythera Mechanism. Nature, 444(7119), 587-591. DOI: 10.1038/nature05357
Freeth, T., Jones, A., Steele, J., & Bitsakis, Y. (2008) Calendars with Olympiad display and eclipse prediction on the Antikythera Mechanism. Nature, 454(7204), 614-617. DOI: 10.1038/nature07130
You’ll be seeing a lot of this button around the web today as it’s part of the celebrations for PLoS @ Two. It’s certainly something worth celebrating as PLoSOne is bringing a lot of good science to a wide audience. That’s particularly important with interdisciplinary papers because it’s very easy to publish them in just [...]... Read more »
Peter R. Teske, Isabelle Papadopoulos, Christopher D. McQuaid, Brent K. Newman, & Nigel P. Barker. (2007) Climate Change, Genetics or Human Choice: Why Were the Shells of Mankind's Earliest Ornament Larger in the Pleistocene Than in the Holocene?. PLoS ONE, 2(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0000614
One of the advantages of tripping to other libraries is that you get to browse journals you’d otherwise miss. One example is the Journal of the Royal Institute for Anthropology, which I wouldn’t see at Leicester. That is a pity because I’m missing some stuff like Close encounters: UFO beliefs in a remote Australian Aboriginal ... Read more »
Eirik Saethre. (2007) Close encounters: UFO beliefs in a remote Australian Aboriginal community. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 13(4), 901-915. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9655.2007.00463.x
The map above is a closer look at a map of ancient Rome by Allyn and Bacon. It’s interesting because it shows the position of the Solarium, or the Horologium Augusti, a giant sundial set up by Augustus. It’s the subject of a paper in the Journal of Roman Studies by Peter Heslin: Augustus, Domitian ... Read more »
Peter Heslin. (2007) Augustus, Domitian and the So-called Horologium Augusti. Journal of Roman Studies, 1-20. info:ISSN/0075-4358
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