music

Archaeology News

This was also posted in my other blog, The Art of Science:

First news item: the cave paintings at Lascaux (France) are currently being threatened by mold. One of the possible causes: bright lights. The caves have a history of threats, all directly or indirectly caused by humans. This case exemplifies the hard challenges faced with old artifacts – or just limited natural resources in general – and weighing the benefits of preservation/isolation, scientific intervention and study, and public access to knowledge and such resources.

Next up: The re-creation of musical instruments from Central America. The story discusses Roberto Velazquez, a musical historian/archaeologist/mechanical engineer who studies ancient musical instruments found in archaeological sites all over Central America and recreates them and experiments with their sounds. What is not mentioned but inferred is the spectral analysis done on these instruments in order to determine what they are made out of – clay mostly, but also feathers, reeds, frog bones? – and how to recreate them. Velazquez will also experiment with making sounds with the flutes and whistles, and some of them are really eery; there is a sound clip with samples of all the different sounds, and I was not prepared for the first sounds that they played. It was from the appropriately-named Whistle of Death, and it is creepy to put it mildly.

*Edit*: exclusive only to Complex Interplay and MSNBC: Archaeologists have determined when Odysseus finally made it home.

gender

What she wore

The BBC reported an incident where a woman in South Africa had her pants stolen in public and her house burned down. Why? Because she was wearing pants instead of a skirt: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6917332.stm

Okay, I’m not going to try and be a post-modern type and say “oh, it’s all relative, we need to be accepting of other people’s cultures.” Bull. Burning down a woman’s house and stripping her naked because she’s wearing pants is horrible and I can’t believe people don’t get more pissed off about this sort of thing. Even the article’s author has this attitude of, “oh, well, she was living in a men’s neighborhood, she should have known better.” No, no, no! That sort of behavior is inappropriate in any society.
I know this is an extreme case, but even in 1999 the Italian Supreme Court of appeals ruled that a woman’s rape was excusable because she was wearing jeans: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/277263.stm, so obviously it is still known to happen. This sort of “she/he was asking for it” mentality is just wrong regardless of gender, regardless of culture, regardless of religious beliefs. Period.