Category Archives: archaeology

Glasgow archaeology students told to skip lectures if they’re triggered by the sight of bones

We all know about academic “trigger warnings”: advance advice to students that they may encounter things in a lecture or course that disturb them. I’m not opposed to such warnings in toto (I’d tell students, for example, if I were going to show gruesome photos or videos in class), but I don’t think that these warnings […]

Oldest cat pawprint ever: two millennia

UPDATE: I thought this looked familiar; Matthew published the same story a year ago. Oh well, maybe people have forgotten, or we have new readers. __________ From the BBC and Mental Floss via reader Don B. we have the new discovery of a cat’s pawprints on a Roman roof tile in Gloucester. Here’s the photo: […]

Jesus’s house? The abysmal state of “Biblical archaeology”

I was aware that the field of Biblical archaeology was vaguely dubious, at least insofar as it was devoted to finding archaeological evidence of things said in the Bible. Well, we know that much of the “history” claimed in the Bible is dubious (there was, for instance, no Exodus), so that part of the field is tendentious. […]

A night on the tiles – a Roman cat paw print

by Matthew Cobb A piece of Roman tile, dating back 2000 years, was dug up in the English city of Gloucester in 1969. It lay unremarked in the Gloucester City Museum until an archeologist noticed that when the clay was drying a cat walked across it, leaving its trace… According to the BBC website: The tile, a […]

Remains of Richard III identified: oldest forensic ID yet

You remember these famous words from Shakespeare: Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York; And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. They are of course the opening lines of “Richard III,” and are spoken by the nefarious […]

The world’s oldest graffiti: by Homo erectus! (maybe)

Look at the shell below, which has been dated to 500,000 years ago. See the scratches? Those represent the oldest human etchings, or graffiti, ever found, preceding the next oldest by 300,000 years! Some anthropologists dissent, but more on that at the end of this post. As Science reports, this shell was found by a […]

Ice age art

Perusing the latest stuff from the journal Nature, I found this lovely video of a new exhibit at the British Museum featuring some of the oldest artwork known—including pieces made 40,000 years ago. That’s not too long after the “out of Africa” event that spread modern Homo sapiens through the world! Take a look at […]

Pawprints 2: Roman cat ruins brickwork

Here’s another trace of an ancient moggy, this time from a 1975 paper by G. S. Maxwell, “Excavation at the Roman Fort of Bothwellhaugh, Lanarkshire, 1967-8″ (Brittania 6:20-35; free download). I quote from the paper and reproduce the photo in question: The most remarkable find in this category was, however, the collection of twenty-five brick-fragments […]