Current topics in archaeology, cultural heritage & historic preservation

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Archaeology Presentations, Rock Art Guide, Old Teeth, & A Third Branch of Humanity

OAS MEETING - TUESDAY, JAN. 4, 2011 - Revisiting the Meier Site

Dr. Kenneth Ames is the featured speaker at the January 4, 2011 Oregon Archaeological Society meeting. He will be talking about the Meier Site and Lower Columbia River archaeology.

The Meier Site, located near Scappoose, Oregon, is one of the most significant sites on the Lower Columbia River. It was excavated between 1987 and 1991. The site dates to the period from about AD 1400 to at least through the founding of Ft. Vancouver, in the 1830s and beyond. The Meier site revealed major residential habitation with a massive plankhouse. The talk reviews the results of analyses of thousands of artifacts, focusing on the Meier site, while also discussing other sites along the river.

Dr. Ames is Professor and Department Chair of Anthropology at Portland State University. He has conducted numerous archaeological field research in western North America and has authored numerous publications and reports.

The lecture will be held in the OMSI auditorium at 7:45 PM, and is free and open to the public. The presentation is preceded at 7 PM by a general business meeting, which is also open to the public. See or call 503-727-3507 for information.

Are you looking to learn more about archaeology basics, or do you need a refresher on the history of the Pacific Northwest? The Oregon Archaeological Society offers an annual Training program.

OAS Basic Training, also known as Archaeology for the Curious, is taught by experienced regional professionals from organizations such as the National Forest Service, BLM, and the University of Oregon. The sessions will be held on six Saturdays in late Winter/early Spring.

Contact Steve Satterthwaite (503) 824-2264 or visit

Oregon avocational archaeologists D. Russel Micnhimer and LeeAnn Johnston announce the publication of their new guide book, Where to See Rock Art: Washington Oregon Idaho by Pendulum Press.

It contains general information about various aspects of rock art and specific information about where rock art can be seen in museums, visitor centers, state parks and public lands in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Photographs, line drawings and a brief description give readers an idea of what they will find at 39 locations in the three states.
The table of contents make it easy to access the information in this 147 page paperback.

The authors are members of the Oregon Archaeological Society and have received numerous Loring & Loring Grants from the organization in support of their on going research and website

The new book is available directly from Russel Micnhimer, P. O. Box 1653, Prineville, OR 97754. $14.95 + $4.00 S&H (USPS). For more information email

(I've read Russel and LeeAnn's new book and its a great guide for anyone who wants to visit the very interesting public rock art sites of the Pacific Northwest...Mike)

Author Jack Nisbet will talk about "Point of Departure: David Douglas at Fort Vancouver 1825-33" at 2 p.m. Jan. 9 at E.B. Hamilton Hall on the Fort Vancouver National Site. Nisbet will also give a reading from his book "The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest" at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at Powell's bookstore in downtown Portland.

Douglas was the premier botanical explorer in the Pacific Northwest and western North America in the 19th century. His base of operations always remained at Fort Vancouver. The people he met there influenced his every move, and the changes he witnessed during his visits mark significant turning points for the social, economic, scientific, and environmental stories of the region. In this illustrated presentation at Fort Vancouver, Nisbet traces the energy Douglas brought to, and absorbed from, his central headquarters at Fort Vancouver. Nisbet is this year's Michael M. Powell Fellow at the Center for Columbia River History.

For program information, go to

By News Services-October 29, 2010

A technique for shaping stones into sharp-edged points may have emerged about 55,000 years earlier than previously known, according to a study of stone tools from Blombos Cave in South Africa. Previously, researchers have also found other evidence of “modern” human behavior, such as shell beads, from this 75,000-year-old site, where new ideas and techniques may have been rapidly introduced...

Read the whole story at:


Finger Bones Point to New Branch of Humanity
By Charles Q. Choi
Published December 22, 2010
A finger bone and other remains from Siberia now reveals a previously unknown group of ancient humans once existed there, one neither like us nor Neanderthals.

Bizarrely, the DNA from these extinct Siberians seems unusually similar to that of Pacific Islanders from tropical Melanesia.The 30,000-year-old fossil was found in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia in 2008, a bone fragment that likely came from a fingertip of a young girl. It was discovered along with microblades (small stone blades used as tools), body ornaments of polished stone, and a molar shaped very differently from that of Neanderthals and modern humans, resembling that of much older human species, such as Homo habilis and Homo erectus. (The tooth and the finger bone apparently came from different members of the same population.)...

Read more: New Branch of Humanity?

More at: Three Types of Ancient Humans?

By Daniel Estrin
Associated Press – Mon Dec 27
JERUSALEM –Israeli archaeologists said Monday they may have found the earliest evidence yet for the existence of modern man, and if so, it could upset theories of the origin of humans. A Tel Aviv University team excavating a cave in central Israel said teeth found in the cave are about 400,000 years old and resemble those of other remains of modern man, known scientifically as Homo sapiens, found in Israel. The earliest Homo sapiens remains found until now are half as old...

Read the whole story at: Ancient Teeth

BBC Mobile
December 27, 2010

A particular type of ancient rock art in Western Australia maintains its vivid colours because it is alive, researchers have found...

Read more at:

(Thanks to Oregon Heritage News, News Services, LiveScience, the Associated Press, Russel Micnhimer, and Jodi Lorimer for some of the info in this message).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Petroglyph Rubbings at Skamania Lodge

I was lucky enough to get to attend a Christmas party at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA this weekend.

Very nice place and they have an excellent collection of petroglyph rubbings and Pacific coast Indian-inspired wood carving displayed throughout the hotel.

The rubbings are mostly of ancient images found on the Columbia River Plateau. The region is home to hundreds of petroglyphs that have been carved into the surface of the native basalt and also to many pictographs that are painted on the rock.

Some of the rubbings are especially interesting because they are of images that are now submerged in the pools behind the major dams on the Columbia.

The rubbings were done by artist Jeanne Hillis over a number of years beginning in the 1940's. Skamania Lodge developer John D. Gray (also famous for Salishan, John's Landing, etc.) acquired the entire Hillis collection in the early 1990's to provide an artistic theme for the new lodge. Well known rock art scholar Dr. James Keyser was commissioned to write a monograph on the collection titled Indian Petroglyphs of the Columbia Gorge: The Jeanne Hillis Rubbings which was published in 1994.

I hope you enjoy the images below...and appreciate that they represent an important aspect of a living culture that has existed in the Pacific Northwest for thousands of years.

In addition to the rubbings the lodge holds several major wood carvings with images inspired by Pacific coast Indian art.

All the images in this blog are viewable for free in the public areas of the lodge. It's well worth a stop if you're ever in the area.


(The author received no compensation from Skamania Lodge (or anyone else) for this post.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Artist's Night, Cultural Trust, Machu Picchu & More

Its ARTIST'S NIGHT at the Oregon Archaeological Society! Next Tuesday is a special meeting...OAS artists will exhibit and sell their works, we''ll get a fascinating presentation on Captain Jack's Modoc Stronghold, and we get to select officers and board members for next, education, and elections...all on one night! Plus OAS Basic Training, Oregon Cultural Trust, lectures, 10,000 year-old bones and Machu Picchu artifacts being returned to Peru...all that and more below. (The very artistic carved fish in the photo is 25,000 years old and is located in the Abri du Poisson near Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, France).

The results of recent archaeological field work of Captain Jack’s Stronghold in Lava Beds National Monument in Southern Oregon is the topic of the December 7, 2010 Oregon Archaeological Society lecture. A wildfire in 2008 burned covering vegetation from the “stronghold” and afforded archaeologists access and opportunity to better survey and study the area. The extensive honeycomb of jagged rock outcroppings, caves, and caverns provided Captain Jack and his Modoc tribe with an impregnable fortress and defensive position from which to fight extradition to a reservation by the U.S. Army in 1872-1873. The battle is referred to as the Modoc Indian War in Oregon history.

Jacqueline Cheung and Eric Gleason, both archaeologists with the National Park Service will present findings from their extensive field work, including the fortification and residential features and associated artifacts in the Stronghold. Using projected stereoscopic photographs (in 3-D) from the period, they will illustrate the historic features, battle fortifications, and examine changes in the landscape.

The presentation is at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) at 7:45 PM, and is free and open to the public. The talk is preceded at 7 PM by a general business meeting, which is also open to the public
See or call 503-727-3507 for more information.


Do you want to prepare yourself to work on volunteer projects across the U.S.? Are you looking to learn more about archaeology basics, or do you need a refresher on the history of the Pacific Northwest? The Oregon Archaeological Society offers an annual training program that can help you accomplish all these goals.

OAS Basic Training, also known as Archaeology for the Curious, is taught by experienced regional professionals and volunteers from organizations such as the National Forest Service, BLM, and the University of Oregon.

Classes are held on Saturdays and begin in January 2011.

For all the details check:


This is an important time for the Oregon Cultural Trust.

In the next month, the Trust will be reaching out to Oregonians and asking them to
make a contribution to support our state's unique cultural life and heritage. As you may know, the Trust has a goal of raising $4 million and dramatically increasing the number of donors from across the state by December 31st.

In the coming weeks, as we all spend time with our families, enjoy seasonal
performances and visit our most cherished venues and historic locations, we are asking that you take the time to make a donation to the Oregon Cultural Trust.

And in most cases, your donation will ultimately cost you absolutely nothing.

How? Through a tax credit on your state income tax for contributions to the Trust (keep in mind a tax credit is different than a tax deduction. Your tax bill is literally reduced by the amount of the credit!). To earn the tax credit:

First, make a donation to your favorite Oregon cultural non-profit (like OAS!). A list of qualifying 501(c)(3) non-profits (including OAS) is available at

Second, make an equal or greater contribution to the Oregon Cultural Trust online at

Finally, claim your 100%, dollar for dollar tax credit for your gift to the Trust on your
Oregon state income tax (up to $500 for individuals, $1,000 for couples filing jointly and $2,500 for Oregon Corporations).

Supporting Oregon's culture couldn't be easier or more important. To learn more simply visit our website or contact the Trust via email at or by phoning 503 986 0088.

Thank you for taking the time to support Oregon's most valuable resource; our unique culture. Give the Gift That Grows. Donate today.

January 21st 2011 - Friday 7:30 pm- School of Business Auditorium PSU
Ulrike Krotscheck, The Evergreen State College
“Wine for Bread: trade between Greek colonists and Gauls”

March 11th, 2011 - Friday 7:30 pm - School of Business Auditorium PSU
Thomas Tartaron, University of Pennsylvania
"Korphos-Kalamianos: Investigations at a Recently Discovered Mycenaean Harbor Town in the Corinthia, Greece, 2007-2010" (Dorinda J. Oliver Lecture)

All lectures are preceded by a no-host dinner; for details, and for ADA accommodations at lectures, please email Karen Carr at All AIA events are free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the PSU parking structures after 5 pm on Fridays.

Check out the AIA website at

The Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria will host a free
community day from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 4. Crafts will focus on a few
of the cultures that depended or worked on the Columbia River. Historic
films shown throughout the day in the Kern Room. For a schedule of
events, visit the museum's website at or join the museum on
its Facebook page.

MEXICO CITY.- One of the earliest human skeletons of America, which belonged to a person that lived more than 10,000 years ago, in the Ice Age, was recovered by Mexican specialists from a flooded cave in Quintana Roo. The information it has lodged for centuries will reveal new data regarding the settlement of the Americas.

Read the whole story at:


Alan Garcia, president of Peru, announced on Friday that Yale University has committed to return a collection of artifacts from Machu Picchu in early 2011 -- possibly ending years of negotiations and legal threats over the pieces, which were taken by a Yale team that excavated the area a century ago. Peru has long disputed Yale's assertions that the artifacts were taken legally.

Read the whole story at:

(Thanks to Oregon Heritage News, Russel Micnhimer, AIA,, and Inside Higher Ed for some of the content of this message.)