Friday, April 29, 2011


Multiple excavations at the site of Pig Point, Maryland, have borne some of the oldest artifacts found in the Mid-Atlantic states - pottery, arrow and spear points and remnants of wigwams, fires and foodways - and there likely is more to come. "They could have been here for 10,000 years," said Al Luckenbach, the county's archaeologist. "We have carbon-dated artifacts 8,500 years old." Luckenbach and his colleagues likely have uncovered a site spanning the range of human settlement in the Mid-Atlantic.

What makes Pig Point stand out is the depth of archaeological evidence all in one location. He explained that other sites may have artifacts just as old but they usually are spread several levels apart - one layer of pottery from the 12th century, for instance, then another layer three or four feet deeper. At Pig Point the artifacts have been found buried together, one period to the next stacked on top of one another.

The settlement likely served as a base camp for multiple bands of native Americans. Algonquin peoples and their predecessors likely were drawn to the shallows of Jug Bay and its wealth of fish, shellfish and other sources of sustenance. There also is evidence it was a center of trade. Several artifacts, such as a rolled copper bead, or points made of stone found in Ohio, have been unearthed.

The digging at Pig Point began in earnest in 2009 with funding from the Maryland Historic Trust aimed at locating and analyzing Middle Woodland period (0 to 500 A.D.) prehistoric sites. The Lost Towns Project had been digging prehistoric sites over the years, searching deeper and in more detail many Native American settlements mapped out over a generation ago. It also came about through the publicity-shy property owner's willingness to allow big chunks of his property to be dug up and sifted for the sake of historic curiosity.

One of the first finds that sent chills up the spines of the archaeologists
was a few dark smudges in the dirt. Those round spots turned out to be the remnants of saplings thrust into the ground for a wigwam, the oblong shelters favored by the indigenous people of the region. Then they found another row of posts, then another.
"We have the oldest structures ever found in Maryland," Luckenbach said. "And the first found in Tidewater Maryland," Pig Point's wigwams, thought to be about 16 by 12 feet, are considerably older. The first was about 800 years old. Carbon dating on the other post holes showed they were even older - one from the 6th century and another from the 3rd century.

It seems every layer uncovered in the methodical system utilized by archaeologists has turned up another eureka moment. If not a piece of pottery preceding the birth of Christ, it was an even older spear point. Crews have found preserved bone tools, arrowheads made of deer antler, needles and awls made of bone, flaking tools, plus shards of pottery, clam shells, fish and wildlife bones. And then there are the points - arrow points, spear points, some in the familiar triangle shape, others rounded, still others longer oblong affairs.

The oldest, a Palmer point, could be 10,000 years old. Pig Point also is the farthest south Archaic triangle points have been found. Previously a New Jersey site, well-known among archaeologist as Abbott Farm, south of Trenton, was the southernmost location the Archaic period points had been found. Other points found include Piscataway points from roughly 1,000 B.C. Bifurcate points dated at 5,000 B.C. also were unearthed. Pottery found at the site includes the first intact native American pot Luckenbach has ever held. The 2.5-inch paint pot was found next to a heavily burned fire pit along with pieces of unfired clay, leading county staff to believe it got lost under the fire built to fire a batch of pottery. Carbon dates from that layer of the dig have run from 1260 to 1320 A.D. A tube pipe circa 500 A.D. and chunks of a gorget, a semicircular stone worn around the neck, are among the other prominent finds. Aside from the depth and plenty, it's the unusual items found there that have sparked interest and wonder. There are items uncovered there from the Adena mound building cultures of the Midwest, for instance.

But why would it all converge at Pig Point? Theories abound. The wealth of artifacts found so far will keep the Lost Towns staff and scores of interns busy for years. And there will be more to come. After two full seasons of digging, the thousands of artifacts uncovered at Pig Point have been moved to the county archaeology lab at Historic London Town and Gardens in Edgewater. There every piece is meticulously cleaned, numbered and cataloged. Then the study can begin.

So they are back at it at Pig Point, digging and scraping, sifting and
sorting, finding out who we are.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Notorious for being a cruel megalomaniac tyrant who persecuted early Christians, had his stepbrother, two of his wives and even his own mother murdered, Rome's fifth emperor, Nero, has never been held dear in Roman history.

Take a visual tour of Emperor Nero's palace in this slide show at

The remains of the magnificent estate on the Palatine hill where the emperor lived in the first years of his reign, will open to the public at the end of the summer, Italian authorities announced at the opening of a major exhibition on the controversial emperor.

Stretching for about 1.2 miles along key archaeological sites of ancient Rome, the exhibition, which runs until Sept. 18, aims to show the many faces of Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (37 - 68 A.D. ).

Nero became emperor at just age 17 in 54 A.D. After his people took up arms against him, Nero fled Rome and stabbed himself in the throat before he could be arrested. He was 31.

The palace, named Domus Transitoria, was an architectural masterpiece which stretched from the Palatine, where Nero first lived with his grand-uncle and adoptive father Claudius and his mother Agrippina, to the gardens of Maecenas on the Esquiline.

The residence was grandiose, but it did not last long. Built around 60 A.D., it was ruined in the Great Fire four years later and was replaced by the Domus Aurea, one of the most opulent palatial complexes ever constructed.

After Nero's death, subsequent emperors officially damned his legacy and destroyed most of whatever remained of Nero's first castle after the great fire. However, excavations, begun in the 18th century and continued afterwards, brought to light some fragmentary complexes.

"Based on the archaeological evidence, we have produced the first ever 3D virtual reconstruction of the complex," Rea said.

Italy's junior culture minister Francesco Maria Giro explained to reporters touring the show that the exhibit is "not an attempt at rehabilitating Nero. It helps to explain his merits, his qualities but also his failings, to give a fuller image."

The complex is expected to open to limited groups of visitors in September.


Excavations at a large Middle Bronze Age Canaanite Palace in the western Galilee region of present-day Israel are revealing mounting evidence of an ancient Minoan cultural presence in ancient Canaan during the 17th century B.C.E.

A recent and ongoing excavation is opening a new window on the possible presence of ancient Minoans revealing what may be the earliest known Western art found in the eastern Mediterranean.

Known as Tel Kabri (located near its namesake kibbutz not far from historic Acco and the resort town of Nahariya on the coast of Israel), the site features an early Middle Bronze Age (MB I) palace dated to the 19th century B.C.E., making it, along with ancient Aphek and possibly Megiddo, the earliest MB palace discovered in present-day Israel. This conclusion was drawn as a result of excavations conducted there as recently as December 20, 2010 to January 10, 2011. But the tell-tale signs of an Aegean presence or influence at the site show up in a later developmental phase of the palace structure some 150 to 200 years later in the overlying MB II palace dated to the 17th century.

Reports Dr. Eric Cline of George Washington University and Co-Director of the excavations along with Assaf Yasur-Landau of Haifa University, "Excavations conducted by [Aharon] Kempinski and [Wolf-Dietrich] Niemeier from 1986 to 1993 at the site of Tel Kabri -- now identified as the capital of a Middle Bronze Age Canaanite kingdom located in the western Galilee region of modern Israel -- revealed the remains of a palace dating to the Middle Bronze (MB) II period (ca. 1700 - 1550 B.C.E.). Within the palace, Kempinski and Niemeier discovered an Aegean-style painted plaster floor and several thousand fragments originally from a miniature Aegean-style wall fresco."(1)

The new excavations under the direction of Cline and Yasur-Landau have added to the discovery. Reports Cline, et al., "During the 2008 and 2009 excavations at Tel Kabri more than 100 new fragments of wall and floor plaster were uncovered. Approximately 60 are painted, probably belonging to a second Aegean-style wall fresco with
figural representations and a second Aegean-style painted floor."(2)

Additionally, the excavations during the summer of 2009 and the winter of 2010/2011 have revealed emerging clues of a possible Minoan influence on the architecture of the site. A stone structural feature unearthed outside of the northern wall of the palace in 2009 shows a configuration characteristically attributable to Minoan construction. "It's only one level of stones thick," says Cline. "But it zig-zags. You usually see that on Crete, where it is a ceremonial walkway around a palace. It is either a walkway or the bottom of a wall......I think it is a roadway or walkway and that it may well be going around the palace. This roadway may be headed toward the missing west entrance to the palace."

The excavations at Tel Kabri are still young, but the finds to date have set
the stage for much more to come. All indications thus far point to the
probability that more frescoes will be found, further supporting the Minoan
connection. Looking at the larger picture, researchers hope to be able to
reconstruct the life-cycle of the Canaanite palace, determine its actual
size, and find answers to a host of new questions that have emerged as the
investigations have progressed.

"It's like no other site I have seen because it [the palace] is so huge yet
it was really only occupied during the Middle Bronze Age," says Cline.
"There is a lot more to learn. I think that we've only just begun to scratch
the surface."


The discoverers and other specialists in Greek history said the tablet, one of the oldest known examples of writing in mainland Europe, should cast light on the political structure and bureaucratic practices near the beginning of the renowned Mycenaean period, 1600 to 1100 B.C. At its height, the culture supported the splendor of palaces at Mycenae and Pylos and inspired the heroic legend of the Trojan War, immortalized in Homer's Iliad.

"This is a rare case where archaeology meets ancient texts and Greek myths," Michael B. Cosmopoulos, director of the excavations, said last week in announcing the discovery.

Dr. Cosmopoulos, an archaeologist and professor of Greek studies at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, said the tablet, only 2 inches by 3 inches, was a surprise uncovered last summer in the middle of an olive grove in southwest Greece, near the modern village of Iklaina. Judging by pottery in the dump, the tablet dates to sometime from 1490 to 1390 B.C. Scholars said they had little evidence before that clay tablets were made and used to keep state records so early in Mycenaean history.

The Missouri team had investigated the Iklaina site for 11 years, and in the last couple of summers examined the extensive evidence of stone walls of what may have been a palace at a district capital. Some walls are decorated with frescoes showing ladies of the court and ships with dolphins cavorting in water. There are also remains of a drainage and sewer system far ahead of its time.

Previous excavations had yielded clay writing tablets from 1200 B.C., close to the approximate time of the supposed Trojan War, and some references to Iklaina as an administrative center associated with Pylos. Dr. Cosmopoulos said in an interview that the new findings appeared to show that some 200 years earlier this may have been the seat of an independent chiefdom that had already achieved a degree of literacy and political organization.

On one side, the tablet has one readable word, a verb meaning to prepare to manufacture. Along the broken edges are other characters, but not enough for scholars to make out the word or words. On the reverse side, the tablet gives a list of men's names alongside numbers. Cynthia Shelmerdine at the University of Texas, Austin, was the first to read the writing and assess its importance. "The fact that we have a tablet like this means that this government had scribes, and scribes are a product of bureaucracy," Dr. Cosmopoulos said.

Archaeologists are only beginning to consider the implications of the discovery. It suggests that political states in ancient Greece originated at least a century and a half earlier than had been documented. Iklaina may have started small and been conquered and annexed by one of the expanding
powers, like Pylos, in the same region.


Textiles and rope fragments found in a Peruvian cave have been dated to around 12,000 years ago, making them the oldest textiles ever found in South America, according to a report in the April issue of Current Anthropology.

The items were found 30 years ago in Guitarrero Cave high in the Andes Mountains. Other artifacts found along with the textiles had been dated to 12,000 ago and even older. However, the textiles themselves had never been dated, and whether they too were that old had been controversial, according to Edward Jolie, an archaeologist at Mercyhurst College (PA) who led this latest research.

The cave had been disturbed frequently by human and geological activity, so it was possible that the textiles could have belonged to much more recent inhabitants. What's more, the prior radiocarbon dates for the site had been taken from bone, obsidian, and charcoal-items that are known to sometimes produce inaccurate radiocarbon ages. According to Jolie, charcoal especially can produce dates that tend to overestimate a site's age.

"By dating the textiles themselves, we were able to confirm their antiquity and refine the timing of the early occupation of the Andes highlands," Jolie said. His team used the latest radiocarbon dating technique-accelerated mass spectrometry-to place the textiles at between 12,100 and 11,080 years old.

The textile items include fragments of woven fabrics possibly used for bags,baskets, wall or floor coverings, or bedding. They were likely left by settlers from lower altitude areas during "periodic forays" into the mountains, the researchers say. "Guitarrero Cave's location at a lower elevation in a more temperate environment as compared with the high Andean [plain] made it an ideal site for humans to camp and provision themselves for excursions to even higher altitudes," Jolie and his colleagues write.

Jolie's research also suggests that women were among these earliest high altitude explorers. Bundles of processed plant material found in the cave indicate that textile weaving occurred on site. "Given what we know about textile and basket production in other cultures, there's a good possibility that it would have been women doing this work," Jolie said.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


A researcher analyzing the sounds in languages spoken around the world has detected an ancient signal that points to southern Africa as the place where modern human language originated.

The finding fits well with the evidence from fossil skulls and DNA that modern humans originated in Africa. It also implies, though does not prove, that modern language originated only once, an issue of considerable controversy among linguists.

The detection of such an ancient signal in language is surprising. Because words change so rapidly, many linguists think that languages cannot be traced very far back in time. The oldest language tree so far reconstructed, that of the Indo-European family, which includes English, goes back 9,000 years at most.

Quentin D. Atkinson, a biologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, has shattered this time barrier, if his claim is correct, by looking not at words but at phonemes — the consonants, vowels and tones that are the simplest elements of language. Dr. Atkinson, an expert at applying mathematical methods to linguistics, has found a simple but striking pattern in some 500 languages spoken throughout the world: A language area uses fewer phonemes the farther that early humans had to travel from Africa to reach it.

Some of the click-using languages of Africa have more than 100 phonemes, whereas Hawaiian, toward the far end of the human migration route out of Africa, has only 13. English has about 45 phonemes.

This pattern of decreasing diversity with distance, similar to the well-established decrease in genetic diversity with distance from Africa, implies that the origin of modern human language is in the region of southwestern Africa, Dr. Atkinson says in an article published in the journal Science.

Language is at least 50,000 years old, the date that modern humans dispersed from Africa, and some experts say it is at least 100,000 years old. Dr. Atkinson, if his work is correct, is picking up a distant echo from this far back in time.

Linguists tend to dismiss any claims to have found traces of language older than 10,000 years, “but this paper comes closest to convincing me that this type of research is possible,” said Martin Haspelmath, a linguist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

“We’re uneasy about mathematical modeling that we don’t understand juxtaposed to philological modeling that we do understand,” Brian D. Joseph, a linguist at Ohio State University, said about the Indo-European tree. But he thinks that linguists may be more willing to accept Dr. Atkinson’s new article because it does not conflict with any established area of linguistic scholarship.

Dr. Atkinson’s finding fits with other evidence about the origins of language. The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert belong to one of the earliest branches of the genetic tree based on human mitochondrial DNA. Their languages belong to a family known as Khoisan and include many click sounds, which seem to be a very ancient feature of language. And they live in southern Africa, which Dr. Atkinson’s calculations point to as the origin of language. But whether Khoisan is closest to some ancestral form of language “is not something my method can speak to,” Dr. Atkinson said.

“What’s so remarkable about this work is that it shows language doesn’t change all that fast — it retains a signal of its ancestry over tens of thousands of years,” said Mark Pagel, a biologist at the University of Reading in England who advised Dr. Atkinson. Dr. Pagel sees language as central to human expansion across the globe.

In the wake of modern human expansion, archaic human species like the Neanderthals were wiped out and large species of game, fossil evidence shows, fell into extinction on every continent shortly after the arrival of modern humans.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


MES AYNAK. A rescue operation is underway to save as much as possible from ancient Buddhist monasteries in Mes Aynak, Afghanistan, before the mountains become an open-cast mine and the site is destroyed. In what is now the world’s largest archaeological dig, around 1,000 workers are trying to excavate artifacts from the country’s second most important Buddhist site (along with Hadda), after Bamiyan.

The site, a former training camp of Osama bin Laden, has been leased to a Chinese mining company for copper production. Only what can be excavated and removed to safety will be saved.

Despite the impending archaeological loss, Mes Aynak has received scant attention internationally. Moreover, Afghanistan’s heritage has suffered much in recent years from civil war, looting and the vandalism of the Taliban.

Mes Aynak (Little Copper Well) lies 25 miles south-east of Kabul, in a barren region. The Buddhist monasteries date from the third to the seventh centuries, and are located near the remains of ancient copper mines. It is unclear whether the monastery was originally established to serve the miners or if the monks set up there to work the mines themselves.

During the early 2000s, widespread looting occurred at the Buddhist sites after the Kabul government found it difficult to impose control. Archaeologists are now uncovering dozens of statues with missing heads that were broken off to sell.

Mes Aynak’s fate changed again in 2007, when the government negotiated a 30-year mining concession with the state-owned China Metallurgical Group. The archaeological remains sit on the world’s second largest copper deposit. The $3bn deal represents the largest business venture in Afghanistan’s history. The mining project should bring major economic benefits for the country, but it involves digging a huge open-cast mine that will envelop most of the archaeological remains. Although mining has not yet begun, large numbers of Chinese workers are already developing the infrastructure.

The rescue excavations began in 2009 at Gol Hamid, which lies in a mountain pass adjacent to a Chinese camp. Work was undertaken by the National Institute of Archaeology and the Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan. Part of the monastic compound was excavated, leading to the discovery of a vaulted chapel, monks’ cells and storerooms. Polychrome terracotta statues were also found, including a sleeping Buddha.

Last year the archaeological work moved to Tepe Kafiriat, higher up the mountains. The 260 ft walled complex originally had eight stone-clad stupas (ceremonial towers for relics), surrounding the main stupa. Among the finds are a 25 ft-long reclining Buddha and wall paintings. Archaeologists also discovered a pair of large feet, which are all that remains of a 10 ft statue (the main part was looted or destroyed in the early 2000s). An ancient wooden Buddha was also discovered, which very rarely survive. Although comparatively little has been excavated, the archaeologists are supposed to complete their work within 14 months. Mining is due to start in 2014.

Last month The Art Newspaper spoke to Omar Sultan, the deputy minister for information and culture. He pledged that from this month, the number of archaeologists would rise from 30 to 65. The number of laborers would be increased tenfold, from 90 to 900. The site is guarded by a force of 1,600 soldiers. Excavation costs are now estimated at $28m, although it is not clear whether the whole site has been surveyed. Funding is coming from the ministry of mines, and possibly from the Chinese company. The Chinese have also promised to send archaeologists.

The most important portable finds have been transferred to the National Museum in Kabul, although its storage and conservation facilities are inadequate to handle the volume of material that has been unearthed. On 15 March, finds from Mes Aynak went on display in Kabul. “Along the Silk Road: Recent Excavations from Mes Aynak”, featuring 70 of the most important discoveries, was funded by the US embassy in Kabul. The government has plans to build a new museum near Mes Aynak, on a site in Logar province. It will be five miles from the mine. There are hopes of moving some of the stupa bases and reconstructing them in the new museum.


Werner Herzog’s new film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, tells the story of the ancient creation and modern discovery of the stunning rock-art of the Chauvet cave in the Ardèche Valley, south-east France. Shot in 3-D, the documentary takes the audience deep inside the huge caverns to marvel at the vivid, almost cinematic depictions of animals that date back some 32,000 years. The apparent freshness of these ancient images, and the technical ability they demonstrate, is staggering.

Monday, April 04, 2011


It has been fascinating to see how the story of the lead codices has been examined on the blogs and already found wanting. I agree with James McGrath: The biblioblogging community should be proud. It seems that yet again the collective effort of scholars and other interested parties with blogs has shed more light on an issue than the media or any one individual managed to, and has done so quickly and effectively. The next time someone asks "Why blog?" I will mention this as an example of the sort of thing that makes blogging worthwhile for all.If you have not been following the latest developments, here are the key recent links (i.e. yesterday and today) in the blogs, all of which also have additional links:

Daniel O. McClellan: Peter Thonemann on the Lead Codices

Paleojudaica: Hebrew-Inscribed-Metal-Codices Watch: A Fake

Paleojudaica: Hebrew-Inscribed-Metal Codices Watch

Forbidden Gospels: Lead Codices? Come on!

Very well done to the bloggers who managed quickly to get on top of this story, in spite of the thin reporting, confusion and misinformation in much of the media.

Sunday, April 03, 2011


A group of 70 or so "books", each with between five and 15 lead leaves bound by lead rings, was apparently discovered in a remote arid valley in northern Jordan somewhere between 2005 and 2007. They could, just possibly, change our understanding of how Jesus was crucified and resurrected, and how Christianity was born.

A flash flood had exposed two niches inside the cave, one of them marked with a menorah or candlestick, the ancient Jewish religious symbol. A Jordanian Bedouin opened these plugs, and what he found inside might constitute extremely rare relics of early Christianity. That is certainly the view of the Jordanian government, which claims they were smuggled into Israel by another Bedouin. The Israeli Bedouin who currently holds the books has denied smuggling them out of Jordan, and claims they have been in his family for 100 years. Jordan says it will "exert all efforts at every level" to get the relics repatriated.

The books, or "codices", were apparently cast in lead, before being bound by lead rings. Their leaves - which are mostly about the size of a credit card - contain text in Ancient Hebrew, most of which is in code. If the relics are of early Christian origin rather than Jewish, then they are of huge significance.

One of the few people to see the collection is David Elkington, a scholar of ancient religious archaeology who is heading a British team trying to get the lead books safely into a Jordanian museum. He says they could be "the major discovery of Christian history", adding: "It's a breathtaking thought that we have held these objects that might have been held by the early saints of the Church." He believes the most telling evidence for an early Christian origin lies in the images decorating the covers of the books and some of the pages of those which have so far been opened.

Philip Davies, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament Studies at Sheffield University, says the most powerful evidence for a Christian origin lies in plates cast into a picture map of the holy city of Jerusalem. "As soon as I saw that, I was dumbstruck. That struck me as so obviously a Christian image," he says.

"There is a cross in the foreground, and behind it is what has to be the tomb [of Jesus], a small building with an opening, and behind that the walls of the city. There are walls depicted on other pages of these books too and they almost certainly refer to Jerusalem." It is the cross that is the most telling feature, in the shape of a capital T, as the crosses used by Romans for crucifixion were.

"[Another] one of the things that is most likely pointing towards a Christian provenance, is that these are not scrolls but books. The Christians were particularly associated with writing in a book form rather than scroll form, and sealed books in particular as part of the secret tradition of early Christianity."
Another potential link with the Bible is contained in one of the few fragments of text from the collection to have been translated. It appears with the image of the menorah and reads "I shall walk uprightly", a sentence that also appears in the Book of Revelation.

Never has there been a discovery of relics on this scale from the early Christian movement, in its homeland and so early in its history.


The first non-Iraqi archaeological investigation of the Tigris-Euphrates delta in 20 years was a preliminary foray by three women who began to explore the links between wetland resources and the emergence and growth of cities last year.

"Foreign investigations in Iraq stopped in the 1990s," said Carrie Hritz, assistant professor of anthropology, Penn State. "Iraqis continued research, but because their work is unpublished, we are unsure of where they surveyed."

The marshlands in Iraq and Iran were drained between 1950 and the 1990s. While initial explanations were that Iraq needed the land for agricultural uses, more often than not, politics played a role. After the first Gulf war, Saddam Hussein drained the areas between the Tigris and Euphrates to control and punish Shia dissidents among the Marsh Arabs.

Restoration of the Hammar marshes is now a high national priority. If we do not act quickly, the window of opportunity for conducting work in this region will close, according to the researchers who include Hritz; Jennifer Pournelle, research assistant professor, School of the Environment, University of South Carolina, and Jennifer Smith, associate professor of geology, Washington University in St. Louis.

The project aims to investigate the contributions of the early-mid Holocene shoreline of the gulf and marshes to the economic foundations of Mesopotamian cities. The researchers are looking at archaeological sites from 5,000 B.C. to Islamic times.

Carrying out any type of survey in a country at war is difficult and making arrangements becomes a daunting task. "Ultimately, we found that the only way to get into the country that was cost effective was to go on a tour with a British tour company," said Hritz. "While in Bagdad, we met with the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, and they encouraged us to visit the sites with a SBAH representative and report back to them any observations."

The researchers also used local Iraqi security for their trip rather than hiring a foreign security firm. They spent a week on their British tour going from Baghdad to Basra and then spent five days with a private guide doing geoarchaeological survey in the Basra area.

Beside the preliminary survey, their aim was to establish collaborations with researchers at the University of Basra. They gave lectures at the university and met with geologists to determine what the researchers needed and the part that researchers and university could play.

Looting and damage to university laboratory equipment occurred during the initial stages of the current war in Iraq. The researchers plan to include the University of Basra scientists in their future work and hope to use not only their expertise, but also enhance their facilities.

"One thing we were able to do was to move forward the process to get the University of Basra access to JSTOR," said Hritz. "They now have access." JSTOR is an online database of more than 1,000 academic journals.