Nonexistent or weakly enforced laws in Philadelphia have led to historic graves being destroyed by construction. Hastily organized rescue excavations have salvaged some of these human remains, but others have been destroyed, or are threatened by future development projects. In an attempt to reduce the damage to historic cemeteries, archaeologists in the city have produced an interactive map showing where unmarked gravesites and burial yards were located. They caution, however, that the map does not show all historic burial locations, and that even if a historic cemetery is documented to have been relocated at some time in the past, many human remains are likely still present in the original location. Read more about the issues that led to the creation of this map at the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum.
Ben Potter and colleagues’ work at the Upward Sun River Site in Alaska is making news, and the Smithsonian has the best headline:
Details are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (subscription required):
Beloit College has posted the video of zooarchaeologist Steven Kuehn’s talk on the prehistoric occurrence of the passenger pigeon in the Midwest.
Kuehn briefly surveys passenger pigeon bones at archaeological sites in the Southeast and Northeast (with a mention of both the Lamoka Lake and Cole Gravel Pit sites), but focuses on the area he knows best, Illinois and Wisconsin.
While I disagree with his assertion that Ectopistes bones are, in general, rare in prehistoric archaeological sites, Kuehn makes some interesting points about possible changes through time in the abundance of passenger pigeon and also shows how, at least in later prehistory, passenger pigeons may have had greater symbolic importance.
Kuehn also talks about his own work at the Late Woodland Fish Lake site in Illinois (not far from Cahokia Mounds), where a single feature contained 28 passenger pigeon bones, almost all from the distal wing. Watch the video to see his interpretation of this find.
The Day of Archaeology is, yes, just one day long, but, as part of the celebration, Taylor and Francis is making 100 archaeology articles free to download for the next month and a half.
The free haul includes a wide assortment of papers from the Norwegian Archaeological Review (Theory! And Vikings!), World Archaeology (Is there a happier way to start your abstract than “Unusual funerary behavior is now an exciting area of research”?), Azania (the bananas in Africa debate, and more), Danish Journal of Archaeology (Including Mesolithic, Bronze Age, and Iron Age research. And more Vikings), and Time & Mind (Rock art, archaeoacoustics, and a little more unusual funerary behavior).
Check out the actual titles at Taylor & Francis’s 100 free archaeology articles.