Scientists to begin study of ancient skeleton over Indian protest
By William McCall
2:05 p.m. June 28, 2005
PORTLAND, Ore. – After nearly a decade of court battles, scientists plan to begin studying the 9,300-year-old skeleton known as Kennewick Man next week.
A team of scientists plans to examine the bones at the University of Washington's Burke Museum in Seattle beginning July 6, according to their attorney, Alan Schneider.
Four Northwest Indian tribes had opposed the study, claiming the skeleton could be an ancestor who should be buried. The Interior Department and the Army Corps of Engineers had sided with the tribes.
But a federal judge in Portland, backed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled that the researchers could study the bones to determine how the man died and to find clues to prehistoric life in North America.
"What they're getting is absolutely essential baseline information that has never been obtained for this skeleton," Schneider said Tuesday.
The bones quickly attracted attention from scientists after they were found in 1996 on a Columbia River bank near Kennewick, Wash.
The skeleton is one of the oldest and most complete skeletons ever found on the continent. The long, narrow shape of the skull shows characteristics unlike modern American Indians, raising questions that researchers hope to answer with extensive study.
"Understanding human variation is really critical," said Cleone Hawkinson, Portland anthropologist who founded Friends of America's Past to support scientific access to the ancient remains. "We can't close off an entire chapter in history."
She noted the eight anthropologists who filed the original lawsuit seeking access had to pay for their legal costs and the research, or seek funding for it. No government money was involved.
"It's all coming out of the scientists' pockets," Hawkinson said.
The researchers plan to do what is called a "taphonomic" examination of the skeleton, taking measurements and making observations about the processes that affect animal and plant remains as they become fossilized. Further study is planned based on the initial findings, Schneider said.
"Taphonomy is really a forensic examination," Schneider said. "You try to determine everything that has affected the skeleton from day of death until you study it."
A coalition of four tribes – the Umatilla, Yakama, Colville and Nez Perce – claimed the bones were covered by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and belonged to the tribes.
U.S. District Judge John Jelderks and the appeals court, however, ruled the tribes could prove no direct link to the bones and the act did not apply.
The tribes have appealed the most recent 9th Circuit ruling, but attorneys involved in the case and Jelderks' office said a decision still is pending. Calls to tribal officials were not immediately returned.
Legislation remains under consideration in Congress that would allow federally recognized tribes to claim ancient remains even if they cannot prove a link to a current tribe.
K E N N E W I C K M A N
By James C. Chatters
Encounter with an Ancestor
The discovery of a human ancestor variously referred to as Kennewick or Richland Man has shed light on the complexity of human immigration to the western hemisphere and ignited a controversy that may affect the future of paleoanthropology in the United States.
On July 28, 1996 two young men encountered a human skull in the Columbia River at Kennewick, Washington. That evening I was contacted by Coroner Floyd Johnson, for whom I conduct skeletal forensics. I joined him at the site and helped police recover much of the skeleton. During the next month, under an ARPA permit issued by the Walla Walla District Corps of Engineers, I recovered more wave-scattered bones from the reservoir mud. Throughout the process, I maintained contact with the Corps, which interacted with two local Indian Tribes.
The completeness and unusually good condition of the skeleton, presence of caucasoid traits, lack of definitive Native-American characteristics, and the association with an early homestead led me to suspect that the bones represented a European settler. I first began to question this when I detected a gray object partially healed within the right ilium. CT scans revealed the 20 by 54 mm base of a leaf-shaped, serrated Cascade projectile point typical of Southern Plateau assemblages from 8500 B.P. to 4500 B.P. However, similar styles were in use elsewhere in western North America and Australia into the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, the point raised the possibility of great antiquity, while the skeleton's traits argued for the early nineteenth century. We either had an ancient individual with physical characteristics unlike later native peoples' or a trapper/explorer who'd had difficulties with "stone-age" peoples during his travels. To resolve this issue, the Coroner ordered radiocarbon and DNA analyses.
I conducted a standard forensic examination and measurements with assistance from Central Washington University student Scott Turner, and photographed the skull, teeth, and pathologies. Physical anthropologists Catherine J. MacMillan of Central Washington University and Grover S. Krantz of Washington State University examined the skeleton briefly. Kenneth Reid, Rainshadow Research, helped identify the projectile point. Kenneth Lagergren, DDS interpreted dental X-rays, and Kennewick General Hospital CT scanned the right innominate and cross-sections of longbones. AMS dating was conducted by Donna Kirner of the University of California at Riverside, who also measured amino acid composition and stable C and N ratios. Frederika Kaestle of the University of California, Davis attempted DNA extraction.
The skeleton is nearly complete, missing only the sternum and a few small bones of hands and feet. All teeth were present at the time of death. This was a male of late middle age (40-55 years), and tall (170 to 176 cm ), slender build. He had suffered numerous injuries, the most severe of which were compound fractures of at least 6 ribs and apparent damage to his left shoulder musculature, atrophy of the left humerus due to the muscle damage, and the healing projectile wound in his right pelvis. The lack of head flattening from cradle board use, minimal arthritis in weight-bearing bones, and the unusually light wear on his teeth distinguish the behavior and diet of Kennewick Man from that of more recent peoples in the region. A fragment of the fifth left metacarpal analyzed by AMS has an isotopically-corrected age of 8410 +/- 60 B.P. (UCR 3476) (ca 7300 to 7600 B.C.). Amino acids and stable isotopes indicate heavy dependence on anadromous fish. DNA was intact, but two partially-completed extractions were inconclusive.
The man lacks definitive characteristics of the classic mongoloid stock to which modern Native Americans belong. The skull is dolichocranic (cranial index 73.8) rather than brachycranic, the face narrow and prognathous rather than broad and flat. Cheek bones recede slightly and lack an inferior zygomatic projection; the lower rim of the orbit is even with the upper. Other features are a long, broad nose that projects markedly from the face and high, round orbits. The mandible is v-shaped,with a pronounced, deep chin. Many of these characteristics are definitive of modern-day caucasoid peoples, while others, such as the orbits are typical of neither race. Dental characteristics fit Turner's (1983) Sundadont pattern, indicating possible relationship to south Asian peoples.
On August 30, four days after the startling radiocarbon result, the Corps insisted all studies be terminated and soon took possession of the skeleton. After publishing their intent to repatriate the remains to an alliance of five tribes and bands--Umatilla, Yakama, Nez Perce, Wanapum and Colville--the Corps received numerous requests for scientific study from citizens, congressmen and anthropologists. The Colville then filed a separate claim of their own. A group of internationally-known archaeologists and physical anthropologists filed suit, asserting that NAGPRA does not apply to this case and seeking the opportunity for study. The Asutru Folk Assembly, a traditional European religion, also sued for the right to determine if this individual was their ancestor. The Umatilla, who have taken the lead on the issue, intend immediate reburial in a secret location. The remains now lie in a federal repository awaiting resolution.
The Unknown and Unknowable
The Kennewick discovery, along with other recent finds in Nevada, may significantly alter conventional views of how, when, and by whom the Americas were peopled. If the Corps persists in its refusal to allow additional studies and decides on immediate repatriation, experts will lose the chance to directly examine this rare phenomenon. Although I have studied him extensively and learned much about his life, our descendants--of whatever ethnicity-- will lose the broader view that only multiple perspectives can provide. Data that might be used for such studies in lieu of actual bones remain incomplete as of this writing. When the remains were seized, I had yet to take measured photographs of the postcranial skeleton, and I was still waiting for specialized equipment for state-of-the-art skull measurement. Furthermore, DNA was well preserved and, if restrictive enzyme analysis and detailed sequencing were completed, we might ultimately learn this man's relationship to other peoples of his time and ours. In broader view, reburial without study may set a precedent that forecloses the opportunity for study of most future paleoAmerican finds.
Much, however, is beyond our reach regardless of political outcomes. No matter how long we might study the Kennewick man we would never know the form or color of his eyes, skin and hair, whether his hair was curly or straight, his lips thin or full -- in short many of the characteristics by which we judge living peoples' racial affiliation. We will never be certain if his wound was by accident or intent, what language he spoke, or his religious beliefs. We cannot know if he is truly anyone's ancestor. Given the millennia since he lived, he may be sire to none or all of us.
Search for Roman river crossing
Viewers can vote for the dodecahedon as their favourite item
Hidden Roman buildings could be unearthed as a week-long dig begins in Herefordshire on Saturday.
Archaeologists are looking for a Roman bridge, road and settlement at the River Wye close to Hereford.
County archaeologist Dr Keith Ray said his team would also be looking for evidence of a river crossing and a port for the nearby town of Kenchester.
The dig will be shown live on Monday and Tuesday evening as part of Channel Four's Big Roman Dig.
"This is very exciting as it is a rare opportunity to look closely at such an important historic Roman site," Dr Ray added.
The programme will also feature the Roman dodecahedron, found in Credenhill and housed in Hereford Museum.
Viewers will be invited to vote for their favourite item from ten pieces shown from across the country.
Historians and scientists have been unable to agree what the dodecahedron was used for.
Archaeologists hunt for hot baths
Archaeologists are to dig up a set of Roman baths believed to be at a site in Swindon, Wiltshire.
The latest excavation at Groundwell Ridge started this week, hunting for a set of what used to be hot baths.
A Roman villa was first found at the site, in the north of the town, during housing construction in 1996.
In 2004, the team found a range of cold baths dating back 1,600 years. They hope to add to their collection with the latest five-week dig.
During the past nine years, English Heritage and Swindon borough Council have worked together to buy the land and fund excavations.
The strange case of the woman left hanging
THE skeleton of a woman executed by hanging around 800AD and left suspended by her feet has been found in the county.
Archaeologists made the discovery at a Saxon site being excavated in Kings Meadow Lane, Higham Ferrers.
An analysis of the skeleton has been carried out by Oxford Archaeology, the largest independent archaeological practice in Europe.
It is believed the woman was of high status and was killed amid an unsettling political period following the death of a Mercian king who had ruled Higham Ferrers.
A book called The Roots Of An English Town, published by Oxford Archaeology, and the latest edition of BBC History Magazine, due out on Tuesday, both tell the story of the find.
BBC History's editor Dave Musgrove said: "Skeletons are found regularly in England but so much can be shown from this one. We are suggesting that the woman might have been executed as political reprisal after the death of the Mercian King Offa.
"Higham Ferrers at the time was the Royal Estate belonging to the Mercian king."
Annsofie Witkin, from Oxford Archaeology, worked on the excavation which took place between 1994 and 2003.
She said: "The skeleton was found in 2003. The head, neck and both arms were missing.
"Her legs were tightly folded up against her body, as though they were bound.
"After her execution her body was suspended by her feet and then her head and arms."
Paul Blackhouse is responsible for the book which is available from Higham Ferrers Bookshop and most county libraries, costing £6,50.
He said: "The body splits at a certain point when hanging. The bones were examined and the skeleton had fully separated in a particular way."
Oxford Archaeology will reveal its finds at a Roman site in Kings Meadow Lane, Higham Ferrers, in a book due to be published in two years.
25 June 2005
Researchers overwhelmed by Newton find
July 01 2005 at 05:11PM
London - A collection of notes by the 17th century English mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton, that scientists thought had been lost forever, has been found.
The notes on alchemy were originally discovered after Newton's death in 1727 but were lost after they were sold at auction in July 1936 for £15.
They were found while researchers were cataloguing manuscripts at the Royal Society, Britain's academy of leading scientists.
"This is a hugely exciting find for Newton scholars and for historians of science in general," Dr John Young, of London's Imperial College Newton Project, said in a statement on Friday.
'It provides vital evidence about the alchemical authors Newton was reading'
Newton's celebrated work "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" (or Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) is considered one of the most important works in the history of modern science.
In it he formulates the three laws of motion and that of gravity.
Some scientists in Newton's time believed alchemy held the secret of how to transform base metals into silver or gold. Newton's notes were written in English in his own handwriting.
"It provides vital evidence about the alchemical authors Newton was reading, and the alchemical theories he was investigating in the last decades of the 17th century," Young added.
The notes will be on display at the Royal Society's annual Summer Science Exhibition in London which begins on July 4.
Digging into town's history
By DAVID GRIMES
The Burlington Hawk Eye
Burlington, IA - Excavation of pre-Civil War town offering interesting insights. for The Hawk Eye
An African-American slave from South Carolina who worked his way to freedom in the early 1800s established a community where persons of all racial backgrounds would be welcome a century and a half before Rodney King ever wondered if we all could just get along.
"Free Frank" McWorter was born in South Carolina in 1777, but purchased his freedom while working as a slave for a man in Kentucky who allowed McWorter to earn wages in his spare time.
McWorter eventually moved to west-central Illinois where he put down roots near Barry, Ill., about 30 miles southeast of Quincy, and where he incorporated the town of New Philadelphia in 1836.
McWorter eventually returned to the South to purchase the freedom of 16 of his family members at a cost of $14,000.
This month the New Philadelphia site was named to the Illinois Register of Historic Places.
It is the first known case of a town being laid out and registered by a freed slave in the United States. The town's population was approximately 30 percent black and 70 percent white and thrived through the Civil War and beyond in a county more inclined to be sympathetic rather than hostile toward slave-holding states.
A team of 30 students looking for clues to what life was like at New Philadelphia during its 100 or so years of existence completed the second of three summer digs at the site on Saturday. Ten of the students involved in the excavation were selected from colleges and universities around the country to participate in the dig through the National Science Foundation Experiences for Undergraduate students program. The other 14 students are archaeology and anthropology students from the University of Illinois.
The NSF students received weekly stipends, room and board for their participation in the project, while U of I students received 6 credit hours for their time invested in the field study dig.
"It (the NSF program) offers field research experience for undergraduate students working toward various degrees from colleges around the country and who might not otherwise get the opportunity for this kind of experience," Evan Patuelo, a graduate assistant from Southern California working on her doctorate in prehistoric archaeology at the U of I and who worked at the New Philadelphia site as a student supervisor this year, said.
All students spent five weeks in the field and are now spending another five weeks in lab analysis at the Illinois State Museum labs in Springfield.
Excavation from the first two summers has netted several thousand pieces to be identified and analyzed. This summer's finds include square-shaped nails dating from the 1880s, pottery shards, bits and pieces of china, a handkerchief clip, foundation stones, the bowl from a clay pipe, a portion of shears, a button from a Civil War uniform and a cup from a child's tea set.
New Philadelphia's population never grew to more than 170 although it was platted with 144 lots and had several businesses, two schools and plans for a seminary.
Dig finds from the site are hoped to provide clues as to how integrated life in a pre-Civil War community flourished.
How was the community's name decided?
Paul Shackel, director of the University of Maryland's Center for Heritage Resource Studies and lead archaeologist for the New Philadelphia project, believes McWorter may have selected the name for the same reason Philadelphia was chosen for the Pennsylvania city.
"Nobody knows for sure. But the name means city of brotherly love and that might have been what he (McWorter) was thinking," Shackel said.
New Philadelphia was a town of working class people. a service community of farm laborers who hired out to landowners in the surrounding areas and where small businesses provided for the needs of neighboring farmers. Oral history accounts indicate that New Philadelphia was as popular a place as any for neighbors in the area to conduct business and from which to hire laborers, but there are post-Civil War oral accounts, too, that may offer hints as to the reason for the town's tapering population toward the end of the 19th Century.
County records show that when the railroad came through the area in 1869, the line was built around New Philadelphia rather than through it. As the town's population dwindled in the years after, the section of railroad that had been built around the community was relocated one half mile closer to the town in 1939.
And there are other accounts of the Ku Klux Klan harassing town residents.
U of I and NSF student teams will return for a third and final year in 2006 for the joint excavation effort.
In the meantime, members of the New Philadelphia Association, a local support group for the project, continue to seek placement on the National Register of Historic Places and explore the possibility of New Philadelphia becoming part of the National Park Service.
A Rare Land Rover For The Museum
The Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire has taken possession of a rare Land Rover - it is thought that only 20 such vehicles survive today. The 1949 Land Rover Series 1 station wagon was offered to the museum by a private collector and will go on display within the Land Rover collection at Gaydon.
"We are absolutely delighted to have this particular vehicle in the museum, not only is it a rare specimen, but it has been well cared for and protected over the years and sensitively restored by the owner, it is in excellent condition. Visitors to the museum will be able to see the vehicle on show from today," said Stephen Laing, Curator of the museum.
The museum is open daily (except 24-26 Dec) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance fees: £8 Adults, £7 Concessions, £6 children (5-16) under Fives free. Visitors can take a ride on the Land Rover off-road experience at the Centre during weekends and school holidays. For more information visit the website www.heritage-motor-centre.co.uk
The Tickford Land Rover followed shortly after the launch of the original Land Rover in 1948. The station wagon gave the impression of a more commercial vehicle, although it was not regarded as such by the Exchequer and unfortunately attracted hefty Purchase Tax, which made it expensive causing the inflated purchase price of £959, compared to the exempt of tax ‘farmer's friend’ the Series 1 at £580.
The original Land Rover Series 1 quickly established itself as a most competent vehicle for a wide variety of off-road application. The Solihull car manufacturer - Rover, realised that there might be a market for a more comfortable model, where the car could be used on the road or to transport people, whilst still being as capable as its basic counterpart.
The coachbuilder Tickford was commissioned to design the new model - to be known as the station wagon - and conceived an all-metal rear body on a wooden frame. Inside there was space for seven people, with the addition of four folding seats in the rear, which could be removed for extra storage space. Access for those in the rear was by the front passenger door and at the back there was a split, folding tailgate. The body was finished to a high standard, with a larger single piece windscreen, winding windows and even a metal cover to protect the bonnet mounted spare wheel.
By the end of production in 1951, only 641 station wagons had been produced and more than 600 of these had been exported. It is thought that only about 20 survive today.
Engine: 4 cyl, 1595 cc, 50 bhp
Top speed: 50 mph [80 km/h]
Coachwork: station wagon
Price new: £959 1s 8d
Registration mark: JDG 135
News: Rare Land Rover goes to Heritage Centre
01 Jul 05 14:24
A rare early Land Rover, one of only 20 thought to survive, has gone to the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire. The 1949 Series 1 Station Wagon had belonged to a private collector. Designed by coachbuilders Tickford to carry up to six passengers, it was more comfortable than the 1948 agricultural-spec Land Rover, though as it was liable for purchase tax, it cost £959 compared to the tax-exempt agricultural model, priced at £580. Like modern MPVs, its rear folding seats could be removed, and it had a split/folding rear tailgate, though developing just 50bhp from its 1.6-lirte engine, it could do only 50mph. Just 641 were made between 1949-1951, over 600 of which were exported.
Museum curator Stephen Laing said: "We are absolutely delighted to have this particular vehicle in the museum. Not only is it a rare specimen, it had been well cared-for and protected over the years, and sensitively restored by the owner. It is in excellent condition. Visitors to the museum will be able to see the vehicle on show from today." The Heritage Motor Centre is open daily from 10am-5pm; entry costs £8 for adults, £7 with concessions and £6 for children 5-16. More details are available at www.heritage-motor-centre.co.uk.