Brit-Am Historical Reports

26 May 2009 3 Sevan 5769 Contents:
1. Archaeology: Brit-Am Version of  Explorator 12.05
2. Brit-Am Choice: Israel's Atlantis
3. The Maori Journey to New Zealand
Fish Poisoning May Be Why Polynesians Left Paradise


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1. Archaeology: Brit-Am Version of  Explorator 12.05
From: david meadows <>

Not sure if we've had this traces-of-herbs-in-Egyptian-wine
story yet:

The 'Menachem-handle-inscription' is the latest interesting find
from Jerusalem: (photo)

... and then there's the bone seal with the name 'Shaul' on it
(the first link will expire soon, I suspect):

Arutz Sheva covers both of the previous very nicely (with photos):

Feature on "Israel's Atlantis":

A dig in Israel is endangering daffodils (?!?):

We're hearing of another plan to send a robot into the Great Pyramid:

More on Nefertiti:,1518,625719,00.html


An online atlas of the Saxon Shore:

An online atlas of Hadrian's Wall:

Review of Barry Strauss, *The Spartacus War*:

Visit our blog:

Mediterranean Archaeology:

They've been repairing Cadiz' walls pretty much the same way for
300 years:

A gardener in Herefordshire keeps finding interesting things:


A European skull found in a New Zealand riverbed may have come
from a Dutch shipwreck victim:

Did 'fish poisoning' lead to the colonization of New Zealand etc.?:


Global warming apparently did not wipe out the Pueblo/Anasazi civilization:

An interesting item on a Union soldier who was actually a woman:

... and the "Plantation that Moved Away":

Trying to confirm a skull's link to the 1857 massacre in Utah:

Hype for a return-to-digging at a Rhode Island slave trader's home:

More on Navajo smoke signals:
Interesting coverage of some 'gem-studded-teeth' evidence from
Mexico and environs:

Evidence of pre-industrial mercury pollution in the Andes:

Not sure if we mentioned this Mayan Creation Myth feature before:

I don't think we mentioned this new dating method last week:

What ancient structures can teach modern engineers:

What we can learn from ancient medical stuff:

... not sure if this is related to the above or not (on medicinal
properties of Jordan's soil):

More on the possible origins of the sardonic grin:

Review of John Caroll, *The Wreck of Western Culture*:

Israel (with the kids!):



Roman France:

[please send in suggestions! current digs only please!]

Norton Community Archaeological Group:

Tel Kadesh:

Tel Dan:

Ben Hur:


Past issues of Explorator are available on the web via our
Yahoo site:

2. Brit-Am Choice: Israel's Atlantis
Dr. Ehud Galili, a marine archeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, lives in Atlit and is passionate about this small town that is unfamiliar to most Israelis. Born in Haifa, Galili has been enraptured by the sea from childhood. A fourth-generation sabra, his grandmother's parents came from a fishing family who lived at the Kinneret. He actively campaigns against the encroachment of marinas and the high-rising construction that threatens the beauty of the ridges on this historic coastline. Galili's findings over the past 25 years have made him even more determined to preserve the area as a heritage site.

Galili details the various historic eras of the artifacts and human remains along this stretch of coast. At Kfar Samir and Kfar Galim, between Atlit and Haifa, the earliest-known evidence of olive oil was found - dating from the Late Neolithic era, some 7,500 years ago. A Phoenician harbor and the battering ram from a Hellenistic Greek warship were discovered just north of the Crusader castle.

But in 1984, during an underwater archeological survey, Galili and his colleagues discovered the Atlit-Yam village - some 400 meters offshore. The submerged village, he says, is the largest and best-preserved prehistoric settlement ever uncovered off the Mediterranean coast. In an area of 40,000 square meters eight to 12 meters below sea level, the archeologists found remains of human habitation dating back 9,000 years to the late Pre-Pottery Neolithic period.

Putting together the jigsaw puzzle of their findings, the architecture of the dwellings and the radiocarbon dating sets the scene for what is thought to have been the earliest-known agro-pastoral fishing community, a claim that has gone undisputed by archeological authorities. Marine discoveries from the site are published in professional journals worldwide.

THE ATLIT site is the only one in the world to have uncovered such a complete submerged village, and is also the only one known to contain undisturbed burials. The inhabitants were buried, placed in a flexed position on their sides or backs, sometimes in group graves. This appears to have been a common practice of that time, although the reason is not known. Perhaps the positioning indicates a return to the fetal position. Evidence of rituals suggesting ancestor worship, such as burying the dead close to or within the dwellings, has also been found. The burial sites also contained offerings to the dead, such as an axe for a male and a grinding-stone for a female. Floral and faunal remains suggest that the village sustained itself on hunting, herding, farming and fishing. Evidence of maritime activity, domestication of animals and plants, and the use of the water tables on the stone-built wells show a sophisticated level of civilization.

The condition of the human remains shows that although health was generally poor, many male inhabitants had lived to beyond 50, relatively long compared to other Neolithic communities. The average heights of the village's inhabitants, based on skeletons, were 144 cm. for women and 164 cm. for males. Many skeletons showed evidence of dental disease and a condition associated with using the teeth in making fishnets, as well as vertebrae disorders, elbow abrasion and specific muscle markings typical of boat rowers. Galili and Prof. Israel Herskovitz, senior lecturer in Physical Anthropology at Tel Aviv University Medical School, discovered anomalies in the ears of some of the skeletons which indicated that the villagers dove for fish.

Galili is convinced that 9,000 years ago, Atlit-Yam was a thriving maritime community in a location rich in resources - fish, barley, lentils and wheat grown on the fertile drained swampland and freshwater springs. The inhabitants of Atlit-Yam appear to have had a healthy diet of meat, fish, legumes and grains, as well as fruit. In addition, the distance between the remains of domesticated animals (with a high percentage of pigs and goats) from those of wild ones suggests that farming methods at that time included raising animals. Evidence of pollen from olive trees has also been found, but the lack of pits at Atlit-Yam indicates that it took another millennium before olives were pressed for oil - whereas exploration at the later Neolithic Period at Neveh Yam, just round the bay from Atlit-Yam, as well as at Kfar Samir, Kfar Galim and Megadim on the coast south of Haifa, has revealed thousands of olive pits and evidence of waste from olive-oil production.

Recently, researchers identified signs of tuberculosis in the skeletons of a mother and child at the site. Mycobacterum tuberculosis, the principal agent of human TB, is believed to have evolved over the millennia. A multi-disciplinary team from Tel Aviv and the Hebrew Universities in Israel and Centers for Infectious Diseases in the UK together with the Israel Antiquities Authority put together the tests, including DNA. TB was generally held to have been transferred to humans from cattle, but there were no cows at Atlit-Yam. This led to the suggestion that the high density of the fishing village's population had facilitated the transmission of the disease. According to Dr. Helen Donoghue, the infected organism is "definitely the human strain of TB, in contrast to the original theory that human TB only evolved from bovine TB later on in history, after the domestication of animals."

Dr. Simon Mays, a skeletal biologist at the English Heritage Center for Archaeology, says that the Atlit TB findings "predate the discovery of the only other convincing case of TB from Italy by about 6,000 years."

3. The Maori Journey to New Zealand
Fish Poisoning May Be Why Polynesians Left Paradise
ScienceDaily (May 18, 2009) Ciguatera poisoning, the food-borne disease that can come from eating large, carnivorous reef fish, causes vomiting, headaches, and a burning sensation upon contact with cold surfaces. An early morning walk on cool beach sand can become a painful stroll on fiery coals to a ciguatera victim. But is this common toxin poisoning also the key to a larger mystery? That is, the storied migrations of the Polynesian natives who colonized New Zealand, Easter Island and, possibly, Hawaii in the 11th to 15th centuries? Could ciguatera be the reason masses of people left paradise?
Teina Rongo, a Cook Island Maori from Rarotonga and a Ph.D. student at the Florida Institute of Technology, and his faculty advisers Professors Robert van Woesik and Mark Bush, propose this intriguing theory in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Biogeography. Based on archeological evidence, paleoclimatic data and modern reports of ciguatera poisoning, they theorize that ciguatera outbreaks were linked to climate and that the consequent outbreaks prompted historical migrations of Polynesians.

Why would historic populations of Cook Islanders take the chance of voyaging? A journey beyond the horizon was risky and favorable landfalls were uncertain. It is known that this population was heavily reliant on fish as a source of protein, and the scientists suggest that once their fish resources became inedible, voyaging became a necessity.

Modern Cook Islanders, though surrounded by an ocean teeming with fish, don't eat fish as a regular part of their diet but instead eat processed, imported foods. In the late 1990s, lower-income families who could not afford processed foods emigrated to New Zealand and Australia. The researchers suggest that past migrations had similar roots. The heightened voyaging from A.D. 1000 to 1450 in eastern Polynesia was likely prompted by ciguatera fish poisoning. There were few options but to leave once the staple diet of an island nation became poisonous.

"Our approach brings us a step closer to solving the mysteries of ciguatera and the storied Polynesian native migrations. We hope it will lead to better forecasting and planning for ciguatera outbreaks" says van Woesik.

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