Monday, December 10, 2012

A flaring rim vessel

This is an illustration of a flaring rim, based on reconstructions carried out in 2003 and 2004 while working at the Museo Yacuma. The provenience code "sj-394" refers to a shovel test probe (a small test excavation) at the modern ranch of San Juan (on the southern bank of the lower Iruyañez River). The shovel test was located in the middle of a dense scatter of ceramics, and all of the rim sherds that were recovered from that small probe are arranged into a histogram of rim radii. If you double the radius to make a diameter, then this vessel was about 40 centimeters across. The notes also indicate that it was painted on the upper surface (which would have been easily visible to a user, perhaps someone eating or drinking from the vessel. I used a feature in Adobe Illustrator to try and quickly turn rim profiles into approximations of vessel shape, by rotating the rim profile around an imaginary point at the appropriate distance.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ichapekene Piesta Moxos

The heritage and culture of the people of the Beni has been recognized by UNESCO, as the Ichapekene Piesta Moxos was inscribed yesterday on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This is a great honor for San Ignacio de Moxos, for indigenous people in the Beni, and for all the people of Bolivia. UNESCO's list contains all kinds of fascinating heritage from all over the world. The Fiesta of San Ignacio is more than three hundred years old, and brings together indigenous culture, Baroque music, costumes and dance into a month long party every year. Make sure to see the photographs (click on the tab) and the video. You can also download the documentation.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Finding Black Earth

This project, presented by Crystal McMichael of the Florida Institute of Technology and reported on by Nadia Drake for Wired magazine, uses satellite data to try and tease out the difference between vegetation growing on terra preta (black earth or Amazonian Dark Earth) and other soils. Because black earth is so strongly associated with archaeological sites, this research could allow the vegetation signature (defined by how the trees and plants reflect energy to the EO-1 satellite) to be used to find cultural remains, at a continental scale. When this kind of satellite imagery is combined with field survey (called ground truthing) then the reliability of the imagery is tested, and the survey results can be used to address larger questions.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fine line painted pottery

This is a "raw" photo showing twelve different rim sherds from along the Iruyañez River. This is a style of pottery that seems to be associated with a site called San Juan, which we dated through radiocarbon dates to the mid-first millennium AD. The distinctive feature is the broad flared rim with the repeating fine lines painted on it. There are a few locations along the Iruyañez (including near the San Juan site) where large scatters of these kinds of sherds are present on the surface. Sometimes we can even see faint incised lines cutting across the parallel zigs and zags of the painted lines, almost as though to guide the painting process.  The artifacts are of course all in the Museo Yacuma.