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Archeological Headlines of March 2009

Originating from Australasia, researchers are studying ancient tools comprised of shells, which could change the books on the history of human development in Australasia. In this article, you will also encounter other archeological headlines of March 2009, including an excavation of the McDowell House and the reason why archeologists in Hungary are upset.

Ancient Shell Tools

Using the Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship to make her research possible, Dr Katherine Szabo of the University of Wollongong is interested in seeing how complex shell tools have played a role in human development in a world where fossilized human bones or stone tools are king in the field.

It has been proven that stone tools were rather significant in places like Africa and Europe. However, locations such as East Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Guinea, do not show a historical record of using stone tools. Records of their use actually appear within the last 4,000 years. So, what did our ancestors use? Some archeologists believe that bamboo plants played an important role instead of stone, but unfortunately, evidence is scarce because preservation is nearly impossible for this kind of material.

Szabo has turned towards researching shell because it keeps in the archeological record for just as long as stone. The information centered on this material is also sparing.

McDowell House Finds

A team of archeologists from Wake Forest has used radar and shovel tests to explore the artifacts that the McDowell House in North Carolina will provide. Anxious researchers cannot wait to see the kinds of secrets that have been buried underneath the ground.

A survey of the grounds behind the historic home was conducted by an archaeologist with Wake Forest University and archaeological technician, who are interested in finding something telling of the grounds. The radar will highlight any large barriers, such as foundations, trash pits, outbuildings, or an old well. A grid of 35 by 12 meters (around 115 by 39 feet) has been marked.

The site is of importance because the old plantation could shed light on the life of a Revolutionary War hero named Joseph McDowell, who lived more than 200 years ago. Some of the artifacts uncovered at the site included a piece of a small pieces of a Native American shirt, shards of old window glass, old pottery pieces and ceramics, parts of a knife, as well as pearlware china that most likely originated from England, dating back to the 1790s.

To Publish or Not to Publish”¦

Archeologists in Hungary are in an uproar because the government has decided to publish a list of sites of archeological interest. It is the fear of the researchers that making such sites known to the public could cause a stir amongst looters. The government made the decision to aid land buyers who were interested in knowing ahead of time if the new property that they have their eye on could warrant an excavation in the future. With a list of close to 50,000 listed sites in Hungary, most have not been excavated. The enforcement of the decision is slated to take effect on April 1st, but the Hungarian Archaeology Association has published a statement protesting the new regulation, hoping that it could sway a few minds.