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Posts Tagged ‘Archaeologists’

15 Of The Most Interesting Prosthetic

We’ve all grown up watching pirate movies, seeing hooks, peg legs, marbles substituted for glass eyes, but those aren’t the real deal. In fact, modern prosthetics have gone so far, that the line is beginning to blur, and it’s becoming harder to tell just what the real deal is anymore. Here we take a look at 15 of the most interesting prosthetic bits of genius of all time.

The Ancient Toe

This ancient prosthetic toe goes to show just how much we’ve actually advanced over the last 3,000 years. That’s how old archaeologists believe it to be, since it was found on the mummified remains of an Egyptian noblewoman at a dig in Cairo. It’s made out of wood and leather, and apparently built to last since it still looks usable. Taking a look at this artifact now, you have to wonder, how far did we really come in this field, up until just the last decade?

Legs Too Fast to Race On

In 2008 the International Association of Athletics Federations denied double-amputee Oscar Pistorius a chance to compete in the Summer Olympics because he was too fast. Pistorius was defiant, and appealed the decision. He won the appeal, but despite his being seriously awesome he failed to make the cut for the South African team, and didn’t get to run at Beijing. He’s nicknamed “Blade Runner” because his “feet” are made of carbon fiber springblades, which not only weigh considerably less than human feet, but put enormous bounce in every step.

Tonka the Turtle

That’s no Optimus Prime, that’s a tortoise on a Tonka truck. Tonka was happily minding her own business in the San Francisco Bay Area when she was attacked by a dog. She lost her leg in the combat but her indomitable will kept her going long enough for inventive local humanitarians to fit her with an old Tonka truck chassis. She took to wheeling around the city immediately and hasn’t stopped since.

The World’s Most Advanced Bionic Arm

In 2007, DARPA unveiled the world’s most advanced bionic arm, and said they wanted to have it done by the end of this year, 2009. The arm, looking more like something out of the Terminator, is in fact intended for military applications (hence DARPA taking the lead on it), but it offers so much more than that to anybody who’s lost their natural arm, civilian or not. The unit is meant to be a completely functional replacement for a regular human arm, able to grasp objects just like an able-bodied person would, only with the hardware involved the option is there to crush bone. This is some cool stuff.

Uzonka The Prosthetic Stork

Uzonka, probably the most unique stork in the world, hails from Romania. In this sad case, Uzonka’s beak was severely damaged when she was attacked by some pretty bad people, and she would surely not have survived in the wild. So after several operations, a group of veterinarians were able to fit her with a prosthetic beak. She’s been living the sweet stork life ever since.

Luke Skywalker’s Arm

Who could forget what was probably their first glimpse at the future of bionic limbs when they saw Luke’s creepy bionic hand damaged in The Empire Strikes Back? To the millions of kids who would later grow up nerds, this was both disturbing and fascinating at the same time, and in one word, awesome. This is the hand itself, on display in the Star Wars exhibition while at Fort Worth, TX.

Prosthetics Never Looked So Good

“Immaculate” is a concept design by Hans Huseklepp that, you have to admit, if gets made a reality would make amputees cooler than you. The idea was basically this: Why should amputees live with disturbing facsimiles of the real thing when they could have something so much better? The joints would be able to spin a full 360º, allowing for some pretty wicked bartender tricks, and the whole time it’s sexier than an iPhone to boot.

The Stripper Gun-Leg

A true dual-purpose design here; It’s a prosthetic leg, it’s a machine gun, it’s both. Sure, it’s not real, it has no articulating joint, it’d be illegal just about anywhere and it’s not too pretty. That’s not the point, is it? It’s a gun-leg. It doesn’t exactly hurt that it’s attached to Rose McGowan, either.

Skates, Check. Legs, Unnecessary.

Cody McCasland was born under extreme complications, and was lucky to live at all. In the first two years of his life he went through countless surgeries, with a final endgame of having both legs amputated below the knees. Cody fought through it all, and his parents have made sure that he hasn’t missed an experience yet in his young life, regardless of his physical impairment. Using just about any prosthesis applicable, including “Blade Runner” style springboard feet, Cody does it all. The craziest of them: his prosthetic sled, which replaces ice-skates and allows the little guy to play actual hockey. Sound ridiculous? Tell that to Cody.

Red Eye

Rob Spence, attempting to become the world’s first eyeborg as he calls it, wasn’t about to let his prosthetic eye get him down. Taking a cue from Gibson novels, and being himself a filmmaker, Spence wants to install a camera in his fak
e eye. In the meantime, as a test to see about the feasibility of even getting electronics in a prosthetic eye, he’s set up an LED in there with its own power source. If he can accomplish that much, a camera doesn’t look too difficult.

The Goat?

Not that goats don’t deserve the same treatment as humans, or horses, or elephants or event turtles, but if I walk down a country road and see a goat hobble up on a prosthetic leg I’m probably going to laugh inappropriately and then feel guilty about it. It’s just plain weird, isn’t it? Anti-goat prejudices aside, these sort of prosthetics are nothing short of amazing in that, well, we can fix three-legged goats.

Robocop

Robocop is the epitome of modern prosthetics. We’re talking about full-body prosthesis here, after all. He’s not Murphy anymore, he’s practically a machine, he’s Robocop. All that’s left of the original Alex Murphy here are a few vital organs, some facial tissue and some of his brain. The rest is Detroit’s and Japan’s finest finest technology, all rolled into one seriously awesome package.

The POWER KNEE: What Power Glove?

With onboard a.i. and smooth-running electronically motorized actuators, Ossur’s POWER KNEE is nothing short of futuristic. They’re testing it now at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and hope to actually have it release to the general public sometime in 2010. This thing is so far ahead of the game, it actively senses the landscape to help the walker maintain balance, and even helps walking up inclines or stairs by anticipating the next step and coaxing the muscles in the leg.

Ash’s Chainsaw-Arm

Inspiring far more attempts at mimicry than is safe for the world, Bruce Campbell’s character Ash in Army of Darkness sported a makeshift, emergency-necessitated chainsaw for a prosthetic arm. Throughout the story, this normally very dangerous thing was put to use in pragmatic ways, until finally being replaced by a iron and steel prosthetic arm with full articulation of the wrist and fingers. If only we could accomplish what the ancient Britons could accomplish when Bruce Campbell’s around, maybe we’d have a better world to live in.

1,000-year-old fishing trap found on Google Earth

Britain’s most ancient fishing trap has been discovered off the coastline of Wales after research carried out on Google Earth.

The 853ft (260m) long construction is thought to have been built 1,000 years ago, around the time of the Domesday Book, using large rocks placed on a river bed. 

Scientists believe large numbers of people worked together to erect the trap and it allowed them to catch plentiful numbers of fish for their supper.

The trap in the estuary of the River Teifi, near Cardigan, West Wales, lay undiscovered for a millennium until a strange underwater shape was spotted from a plane flying overhead. 

Archaeologists were called in and looked at the area using Google Earth. 

They found a huge V-shape was clearly visible on the satellite images and divers were sent down to examine the structure. 

The discovery has given them a fascinating glimpse into how medieval communities survived through hunting and fishing. 

Fish swam into the estuary but became trapped by the outgoing tide before being hooked out using nets. 

Dr Ziggy Otto, a marine environment lecturer at Pembrokeshire College who examined the trap, said: “A large, underwater structure was identified on aerial photographs and there can be little doubt that this rather impressive, and quite apparently man-made, structure is an ancient fish trap. 

“Its age is unknown but because of its now entirely sub-tidal position this fish trap is very old, possibly dating back more than 1,000 years, when the sea level was lower. 

“It would have taken a number of fishermen to work on a structure of this size. The fish were herded into the trap and when the tide went out they would be scooped out with nets.” 

The trap is believed to have been made from locally quarried rock, or possibly boulders carried in by glaciers during the last Ice Age. 

A recent exploratory dive at the site, near Llanelli, revealed that the structure is about one metre wide and protrudes about 30cm above the underwater sand. 

Scientific diver Jen Jones, who undertook the first exploratory dive with Dr Otto, said: “This fish trap is probably the oldest man-made structure in Wales ever to be scientifically investigated by way of scuba-diving. It has now metamorphosed from an entirely man-made structure to a naturally functioning reef.” 

Louise Austin, head of heritage management at the Dyfed Archaeological Trust, said: “Fish traps were a widely used means of catching fish in the past which made a significant contribution to the economy of many coastal and estuarine communities. Today only a few are known to survive in Wales.” 

Google Earth was launched four years ago and uses images obtained from satellite imagery and aerial photography superimposed on a globe. 

It allows computer users to zoom in on cities, houses and natural features. 

Last month some observers thought they had spotted the outline of a vast city on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, leading to speculation that it could be the lost city of Atlantis. 

However, the criss-crossing lines located 600 miles west of the Canary Islands were later explained as an “artefact” of Google Earth’s map making process. 

Sea floor terrain data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the sea floor – the lines people saw turned out to be the path of a boat gathering data.

Fragments of Ancient Egyptian Papyrus Found

3,000-Year-Old Document. For 100 years, archaeologists have been trying to piece together fragments to this 3,000-year-old document, written on a papyrus stem. The Egyptian document enumerates all the Egyptian kings and when they ruled. Newly found fragments to the document should help in piecing together the puzzle. Museo Egizio, Torino

From Discovery News:

Feb. 27, 2009 — Some newly recovered papyrus fragments may finally help solve a century-old puzzle, shedding new light on ancient Egyptian history.

Found stored between two sheets of glass in the basement of the Museo Egizio in Turin, the fragments belong to a 3,000-year-old unique document, known as the Turin Kinglist.

Like many ancient Egyptian documents, the Turin Kinglist is written on the stem of a papyrus plant.

Read more ….

Mummies Found In Newly Discovered Tomb In Egypt

In this photo released Monday, Feb. 9, 2009 by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, the remains of a newly-discovered Egyptian mummy and sarcophagus are seen in a tomb at Saqqara, south of Cairo, in Egypt, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. A storeroom housing about two dozen ancient Egyptian mummies has been unearthed inside a 2,600-year-old tomb during the latest round of excavations at the vast necropolis of Saqqara south of Cairo, archaeologists said Monday. (AP Photo/Supreme Council of Antiquities)

From Yahoo News/AP:

CAIRO – A storeroom housing about two dozen ancient Egyptian mummies has been unearthed inside a 2,600-year-old tomb during the latest round of excavations at the vast necropolis of Saqqara south of Cairo, archaeologists said Monday.

The tomb was located at the bottom of a 36-foot deep shaft, said Egypt’s top archaeologist, Zahi Hawass. Twenty-two mummies were found in niches along the tomb’s walls, he said.

Eight sarcophagi were also found in the tomb. Archaeologists so far have opened only one of the sarcophagi — and found a mummy inside of it, said Hawass’ assistant Abdel Hakim Karar. Mummies are believed to be inside the other seven, he said.

Read more ….

Mummies Found In Newly Discovered Tomb In Egypt

In this photo released Monday, Feb. 9, 2009 by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, the remains of a newly-discovered Egyptian mummy and sarcophagus are seen in a tomb at Saqqara, south of Cairo, in Egypt, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. A storeroom housing about two dozen ancient Egyptian mummies has been unearthed inside a 2,600-year-old tomb during the latest round of excavations at the vast necropolis of Saqqara south of Cairo, archaeologists said Monday. (AP Photo/Supreme Council of Antiquities)

From Yahoo News/AP:

CAIRO – A storeroom housing about two dozen ancient Egyptian mummies has been unearthed inside a 2,600-year-old tomb during the latest round of excavations at the vast necropolis of Saqqara south of Cairo, archaeologists said Monday.

The tomb was located at the bottom of a 36-foot deep shaft, said Egypt’s top archaeologist, Zahi Hawass. Twenty-two mummies were found in niches along the tomb’s walls, he said.

Eight sarcophagi were also found in the tomb. Archaeologists so far have opened only one of the sarcophagi — and found a mummy inside of it, said Hawass’ assistant Abdel Hakim Karar. Mummies are believed to be inside the other seven, he said.

Read more ….

Why Did Humans Migrate To The Americas?

From nps.org

From Live Science:

The Americas were the last (well, second-to-last if you count Antarctica) continents to be inhabited by early humans. Archaeologists estimate that people entered North America by crossing over the Bering Strait, which back then was a wide swath of land, about 15,000 years ago.

In other words, people got here by walking a very long distance.

Our image of this major migration is fanciful. When I teach about the peopling of the Americas, I show a slide of people purposefully trekking in a straight line on a tundra from Siberia to Alaska, as if there was some destination on the other side and the only way to get there was to follow the leader, one behind the other.

Read more ….

Satellites Unearthing Ancient Egyptian Ruins

Photo: The enclosure wall of the Great Aten temple in Egypt, as seen from the QuickBird satellite.

From CNN:

(CNN) — Archaeologists believe they have unearthed only a small fraction of Egypt’s ancient ruins, but they’re making new discoveries with help from high-tech allies — satellites that peer into the past from the distance of space.

“Everyone’s becoming more aware of this technology and what it can do,” said Sarah Parcak, an archaeologist who heads the Laboratory for Global Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “There is so much to learn.”

Images from space have been around for decades. Yet only in the past decade or so has the resolution of images from commercial satellites sharpened enough to be of much use to archaeologists. Today, scientists can use them to locate ruins — some no bigger than a small living room — in some of the most remote and forbidding places on the planet.

In this field, Parcak is a pioneer. Her work in Egypt has yielded hundreds of finds in regions of the Middle Egypt and the eastern Nile River Delta.

Read more ….

Lost City Of 'Cloud People' Found In Peru

Buildings carved into the Pachallama peak mountainside in Peru, by Chachapoya

From the Telegraph:

Archaeologists have discovered a lost city carved into the Andes Mountains by the mysterious Chachapoya tribe.

The settlement covers some 12 acres and is perched on a mountainside in the remote Jamalca district of Utcubamba province in the northern jungles of Peru’s Amazon.

The buildings found on the Pachallama peak are in remarkably good condition, estimated to be over 1,000 years old and comprised of the traditional round stone houses built by the Chachapoya, the ‘Cloud Forest People’.

The area is completely overgrown with the jungle now covering much of the settlement but explorers found the walls of the buildings and rock paintings on a cliff face.

Read more ….

How Warfare Shaped Human Evolution

Iran – Iraq War

From The New Scientist:

IT’S a question at the heart of what it is to be human: why do we go to war? The cost to human society is enormous, yet for all our intellectual development, we continue to wage war well into the 21st century.

Now a new theory is emerging that challenges the prevailing view that warfare is a product of human culture and thus a relatively recent phenomenon. For the first time, anthropologists, archaeologists, primatologists, psychologists and political scientists are approaching a consensus. Not only is war as ancient as humankind, they say, but it has played an integral role in our evolution.

The theory helps explain the evolution of familiar aspects of warlike behaviour such as gang warfare. And even suggests the cooperative skills we’ve had to develop to be effective warriors have turned into the modern ability to work towards a common goal.

Read more ….

"Screaming Mummy" Is Murderous Son of Ramses III?

An Egyptian mummy preserved with a pained facial expression (above) could be Prince Pentewere, suspected of plotting the murder of his father, Pharaoh Ramses III, according to a new analysis.Recent examinations of the mummy, found in 1886 and now located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, have helped archaeologists piece together a story of attempted murder, suicide, and conspiracy. Photograph by Alex Turner/Atlantic Productions

From National Geographic:

An Egyptian mummy who died wearing a pained facial expression could be Prince Pentewere, suspected of plotting the murder of his father, Pharaoh Ramses III, according to a new analysis.

Recent examinations of the mummy, found in 1886 and now located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, have helped archaeologists piece together a story of attempted murder, suicide, and conspiracy.

“Two forces were acting upon this mummy: one to get rid of him and the other to try to preserve him,” said Bob Brier, an archaeologist at the University of Long Island in New York who examined the body this year.

Read more ….