Entry 438: Note to Archaeologists: Stop Digging Stuff Up

Whether you’re rummaging around in your attic or digging around the site of a lost civilization, you never know what you’ll find.  Here’s some stuff that has turned up recently…

The Color Blue

A researcher in Israel has discovered evidence of a sacred blue dye called tekhelet that was o-BIBLICAL-BLUE-570[1]used in ancient times to color the tzitzit, or tassles, of a Jewish man’s traditional garment.

The tekhelet dye could only be made through an extremely expensive and time-intensive process using excretions from a sea snail called the Murex trunculus. But then people starting having their tzitzits made more cheaply in ancient China.

On the heels of this discovery, there is now a demand in the hipper areas of Brooklyn for custom-made jeans colored with snail poop.

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The Spartacus School for Gladatorial Studies

Bad Actress #1: We THOUGHT it was just a PHASE, but Megan is STILL failing at school. I’m ALL out of ideas.
Bad Actress #2 (SMUGLY): When Tyler was having trouble, we sent him to gladiator school.

Yes, if your child is failing, forget the Huntington Learning Center and  send him to Austria, where a school for gladiators has been found.

gladiator-school[1]Notice: I said “found,” not “founded.” This particular institution of fighter learning was found near the banks of the Danube. It was built around the second century AD near the site of the military city of Carnuntum (Motto: “Possibly not a great place for pacifists.”) The campus, which covers 30,138 square feet, features a building complex arranged around a central courtyard, or “quad,” which was probably an area where the under-gladiators basked in the sun, threw frisbees and battled each other to the death.

In the southern wing of the building complex, the researchers detected blocks of dorm rooms, each only 32 to 75 square feet.  Archaeologists believe these might more accurately be called “cells,” possibly because there were no Ramen remnants uncovered..

More spacious rooms, probably for the RAs, were also found.

bild_0[1]Researchers have created 3D simulations of the school (above), where students would have studied subjects such as bashing people over the head with poles, how to make lions like you, and wearing short man-skirts in a way that doesn’t show anything while the lion is eating you.

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Aunt Annie’s Antiques

There are other things you can dig up on the Danube.  Archaeologists working in the German city of Regensburg have unearthed a pair pretzel300-year-old pretzels.

The antique snacks are not much different than the product found in Germany’s beer halls today, or in my kitchen cabinet when I moved from my apartment in Manhattan and discovered an open bag at least three years old.

The Regensburgian pretzels are being displayed at the Regensburg Historical Museum, alongside a potato chip that looks like Hitler and some fried pork rinds rumored to have belonged to Otto von Bismarck.

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Evidence of Buffy’s Ancestors

Researchers have excavated a Polish vampire graveyard.

vampire-hookers-1978-movie-poster[1]I know what you’re thinking: they did all that work for nothing, since the vampires would have eventually clawed their ways to the surface themselves. But these were dead vampires, their heads removed and placed between their legs so they could do in death what not even vampires can do in life.

Poland, evidently, has historically been home to lots of exorcists, vampire believers, and sausage lovers, and, to this day, holds week-long exorcism conferences like the one in 2011 that featured a panel about the devil’s deceit during exorcisms. So you can imagine how disappointed the attendees at a recent VampExerCon were to learn that other vampiric remains had been discovered in Bulgaria, and that these skeletons had iron rods through their hearts, indicating a much more advanced knowledge of vampire hunting than had been found in the Polish vampires.

It is unclear whether the headless vampires can still come back to life, either with or without their horses.

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Artifacts That Can Go Viral

Finally, in what may the most extreme example of irresponsible archaeology, scientists n-ANCIENT-VIRUS-large[1]have revived a giant virus that was buried in Siberian ice for 30,000 years. And, to make this discovery even more exciting, the virus is still infectious.

The virus was found by a darling French husband and wife team who had previously discovered two other giant viruses, horrifyingly known as Pandoraviruses. I’m guessing they’re not called that because of their ability to find music you might like.

The researchers have not revealed why they are looking for viruses, much less reviving them, although they do hasten to point out that giant viruses tend to only target amoebas…

…except for the one that infected an 11-month-old multi-cellular French boy.

The adorable couple, who are apparently working toward reviving every virus that has ever appeared on the planet, has suggested that, as the Earth’s ice melts, it could trigger the return of other ancient viruses, with potential risks for human health.

It’s good to know they’re helping to speed the process along.

See you soon.

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2 Responses to Entry 438: Note to Archaeologists: Stop Digging Stuff Up

  1. Pingback: Entry 524: New Old Stuff | The Upsizers

  2. Pingback: Entry 643: More New Old Stuff | The Upsizers

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