ANTH Research Publications

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    Shrines to the Buffalo Spirit: Meteorites and meteorite shrines on the Plains
    (University of Illinois Press, 2023) Blakeslee, Donald J.
    Native understandings of and uses for meteorites constitute a woefully understudied topic. This article reviews evidence from the Great Plains, referring to information from other regions in order to document patterns. Some meteorites clearly were shrines; others were situated in sacred places. Still others have been found far from their fall sites, curated in mortuary features and archaeological sites or placed along trails and in association with prominent landmarks. Some show signs of prehistoric manipulation, including heating. 2023 Midwest Archaeological Conference
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    Modeling the potential impact of storm surge and sea level rise on coastal archaeological heritage: A case study from Georgia
    (Public Library of Science, 2024) Howland, Matthew D.; Thompson, Victor D.
    Climate change poses great risks to archaeological heritage, especially in coastal regions. Preparing to mitigate these challenges requires detailed and accurate assessments of how coastal heritage sites will be impacted by sea level rise (SLR) and storm surge, driven by increasingly severe storms in a warmer climate. However, inconsistency between modeled impacts of coastal erosion on archaeological sites and observed effects has thus far hindered our ability to accurately assess the vulnerability of sites. Modeling of coastal impacts has largely focused on medium-to-long term SLR, while observations of damage to sites have almost exclusively focused on the results of individual storm events. There is therefore a great need for desk-based modeling of the potential impacts of individual storm events to equip cultural heritage managers with the information they need to plan for and mitigate the impacts of storm surge in various future sea level scenarios. Here, we apply the Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model to estimate the risks that storm surge events pose to archaeological sites along the coast of the US State of Georgia in four different SLR scenarios. Our results, shared with cultural heritage managers in the Georgia Historic Preservation Division to facilitate prioritization, documentation, and mitigation efforts, demonstrate that over 4200 archaeological sites in Georgia alone are at risk of inundation and erosion from hurricanes, more than ten times the number of sites that were previously estimated to be at risk by 2100 accounting for SLR alone. We hope that this work encourages necessary action toward conserving coastal physical cultural heritage in Georgia and beyond.
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    An archaeomagnetic study of the Ishtar Gate, Babylon
    (Public Library of Science, 2024-01) Chiara, Anita Di; Tauxe, Lisa; Gries, Helen; Helwing, Barbara; Howland, Matthew D.; Ben-Yosef, Erez
    Data from the marriage of paleomagnetism and archaeology (archaeomagnetism) are the backbone of attempts to create geomagnetic field models for ancient times. Paleointensity experimental design has been the focus of intensive efforts and the requirements and shortcomings are increasingly well understood. Some archaeological materials have excellent age control from inscriptions, which can be tied to a given decade or even a specific year in some cases. In this study, we analyzed fired mud bricks used for the construction of the Ishtar Gate, the entrance complex to the ancient city of Babylon in Southern Mesopotamia. We were able to extract reliable intensity data from all three phases of the gate, the earliest of which includes bricks inscribed with the name of King Nebuchadnezzar II (605 to 562 BCE). These results (1) add high quality intensity data to a region relatively unexplored so far (Southern Mesopotamia), (2) contribute to a better understanding of paleosecular variation in this region, and the development of an archaeomagnetic dating reference for one of the key regions in the history of human civilizations; (3) demonstrate the potential of inscribed bricks (glazed and unglazed), a common material in ancient Mesopotamia, to archaeomagnetic studies; and (4) suggest that the gate complex was constructed some time after the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem, and that there were no substantial chronological gaps in the construction of each consecutive phase. The best fit of our data (averaging 136±2.1 ZAm2) with those of the reference curve (the Levantine Archaeomagnetic Curve) is 569 BCE
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    Exploring geomagnetic variations in ancient Mesopotamia: Archaeomagnetic study of inscribed bricks from the 3rd-1st millennia BCE
    (National Academy of Sciences, 2023-12) Howland, Matthew D.; Tauxe, Lisa; Gordin, Shai; Altaweel, Mark; Cych, Brendan; Ben-Yosef, Erez
    This study presents 32 high-resolution geomagnetic intensity data points from Mesopotamia, spanning the 3rd to the 1st millennia BCE. These data contribute to rectifying geographic disparities in the resolution of the global archaeointensity curve that have hampered our understanding of geomagnetic field dynamics and the viability of applying archaeomagnetism as a method of absolute dating of archaeological objects. A lack of precise and well-dated intensity data in the region has also limited our ability to identify short-term fluctuations in the geomagnetic field, such as the Levantine Iron Age geomagnetic Anomaly (LIAA), a period of high field intensity from ca. 1050 to 550 BCE. This phenomenon has hitherto not been well-demonstrated in Mesopotamia, contrary to predictions from regional geomagnetic models. To address these issues, this study presents precise archaeomagnetic results from 32 inscribed baked bricks, tightly dated to the reigns of 12 Mesopotamian kings through interpretation of their inscriptions. Results confirm the presence of the high field values of the LIAA in Mesopotamia during the first millennium BCE and drastically increase the resolution of the archaeointensity curve for the 3rd-1st millennia BCE. This research establishes a baseline for the use of archaeomagnetic analysis as an absolute dating technique for archaeological materials from Mesopotamia.
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    The Oldest Maps of the Great Plains
    (University of Nebraska Press, 2023-06-01) Blakeslee, Donald J.
    This essay discusses maps that reflect two very different traditions of cartography. Both, however, derive from the expedition to the Great Plains led by Juan de Oñate in 1601. Archaeological evidence that confirms the location of the Native settlement called Etzanoa, which is shown on both maps, allows revision of prior interpretations of both. That process sheds new light on an old story about a city of gold.