Amebury Archer

Thanks to this story from MetaFilter, I’m elated to see new data about the so-called “Amebury Archer.” Last May Wessex Archaeology discovered the richest Bronze age grave ever discovered in Britain. The grave was discovered during a standard preliminary excavation of a future housing development, about three miles south-east of Stonehenge. Based on the physical attributes of the skelton and the goods buried with him, the 35-45 year old man was an archer, and possibly, part of the Stonehenge construction team. Shortly after the first grave was discovered, excavators discovered a smaller companion grave. The artifacts— well over a hundred of them, including three copper knives, two small gold hair tresses, gold earrings, two sandstone wristguards to protect his wrists from the bow string, 16 flint arrowheads and five pots, are amazing, as is the systemic nature of the burial. The grave dates back to roughly 2300 B. C.

One of the more interesting aspects of the burial is that analysis of the archer’s tooth enamel’s oxegen content and other data indicates that he was originally from Switzerland. This fact adds support to the common scholarly belief that Britain was settled from the Continent.

Today we’ve the first results of more detailed analysis, and the archer is definitely from the vicinity of the Swiss Alps. In addition, we now know that the second skeleton found at the site, that of a younger man, aged 20 to 25, is related to the Archer. It is likely they were father and son. Analysis of his teeth shows the younger man grew up in southern England but may have spent his late teens in the Midlands or north-east Scotland.

This find has enormous potential for learning about Bronze age life; we’ve barely tapped the surface of the data. It will certainly change interpretations about the relationship of Bronze age people to Stonehenge.

New Hubble Images of “Dumbbell Nebula”

Via Space.com, comes this story about the new Hubble images of the Dumbbell Nebula. The Dumbbell nebula, in our own Milky Way Galaxy, is a planetary nebula, named thusly because early telescope quality made even nebulae like this one ( the first ever discovered by Charles Messier in 1764) look like the fuzzy blobs of our own solar system’s planets. The gas and dust of this nebula are what’s lefft of a dying star, after it’s cast off the outer matter. The nebula, which looks a bit like a dumbell in ordinary non-Hubble images, is officially known as Messier 27 (M27). You might want to take a look at the rendered video’s here as well, available in high and low bandwidth versions.

You might also want to think back to this image of a star being born in galaxy M16.

Celtic Fonts and Backgrounds

From a rough analysis of my logs and the stats collected by Site Meter the most popular interior page of my site is the one on Celtic Fonts, and the most frequently entered search phrase, in terms of my Celtic Studies Resources is “Celtic backgrounds.” Now, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure the people searching on “Celtic backgrounds” are not seeking Celtic cultural history, but rather, web backgrounds. That said, I’ve created an annotated page of links to sites with Celtic inspired web art here.