Interesting Anthropology News

There are a number of interesting anthropology stories in the news today. My picks below the fold.


First, and in keeping with yesterdays focus on things classical, there is some sad news. This is a story I’ve been meaning to mention for a couple of days now. Bulgarian archaeologist Georgi Kitov has passed away. Kitov was an expert on Thracian culture:

Kitov’s bailiwick was dozens of mounds in what became known as the Valley of the Thracian Kings, in central Bulgaria. He found ancient graves at Strelcha, a religious complex near Starosel and the tomb of King Seuthes III, near the town of Shipka. He collected Thracian jewelry, weaponry and sculpture, including what many consider his finest discovery, the bronze head of a man with eyes of semiprecious stones.

Although he wasn’t without his share of controversy.
Texas State University is opening its “Body Farm” tomorrow. When opens it will be the largest such facility in the world:

Kate Spradley, forensic anthropologist, said there’s a lot of research potential.
“That’s the key, having a known reference collection,” she said. “We know their sex, we know their age, we even know their medical history. So there’s a lot of research potential we haven’t even thought about.”

Finally, this article on Science Daily discusses a new online collection of material relating to middle English:

The MEG project was given 6,1 million NOK from the Research Council of Norway in 2006. The first part of the project is about transcribing the 1000 originals which have been preserved, and turn them into digital texts. In April this year, researchers at the University of Stavanger in Norway launched a unique collection of newly transcribed texts from the late middle ages on the University web pages.
The MEG project builds on previous work on A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English, carried out at the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The collection contains legal, religious, medical and astrological texts, but also cookery books and literary texts, such as romances and dramas. Most of the texts have never been digitised.

There is one more interesting piece of anthropology news out there, but it deserves a post of its own…
Update 1: I forgot this one New life found in ancient tombs:

The Catacombs of Saint Callistus are part of a massive graveyard that covers 15 hectares, equivalent to more than 20 football pitches. The underground tombs were built at the end of the 2nd Century AD and were named after Pope Saint Callistus I. More than 30 popes and martyrs are buried in the catacombs.
“Bacteria can grow on the walls of these underground tombs and often cause damage,” said Professor Dr Clara Urzì from the University of Messina in Italy. “We found two new species of bacteria on decayed surfaces in the catacombs and we think the bacteria, which belong to the Kribbella group, may have been involved in the destruction.”
By studying bacteria that ruin monuments, the researchers hope to develop methods of protecting cultural heritage sites such as the catacombs in Rome. The two new bacterial species discovered in the tombs also have the potential to produce molecules that have useful properties, like enzymes and antibiotics.
“The special conditions in the catacombs have allowed unique species to evolve,” said Professor Dr Urzì. “In fact, the two different Kribbella species we discovered were taken from two sites very close to each other; this shows that even small changes in the micro-environment can lead bacteria to evolve separately.”

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