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Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween


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Author Topic: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween  (Read 1846 times)
Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #165 on: October 31, 2009, 01:48:48 am »

What about zombieism among our hominid ancestors? Is it possible that Homo erectus, or even Australopithicenes, were also confronted by the spectre of the undead? If so, could zombies be responsible for the extinction of some hominid species?

The theory of "Undead Evolutionary Influence" has many supporters in the paleoanthropological community. Louis Leakey even mentioned it in his ground-breaking paper "Lucy Fights a Ghoul." However, in order to test this theory, one would have to clone our pre-human ancestors, then infect them with the zombie virus. That would be, needless to say, both financially and politically expensive, and the technical difficulties are formidable.    Recently, a South Korean researcher claimed to have cloned, then infected, an Australopithecus, in effect creating an undead hominid. However the experiment was quickly revealed to be a hoax.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #166 on: October 31, 2009, 01:49:32 am »

What explains the long gap in the record between the Katanda event 60,000 years ago in sub-Saharan Africa and the next documented occurence of zombieism at 3000 B.C. in Predynastic Egypt?

Although the answer is still a mystery, more and more experts theorize that the gap in zombie attacks during this long period may, in fact, be more of a gap in our ability to decipher the archaeological record. One recent expedition to Iraq believes that they have uncovered a cuneiform tablet inscribed with the Sumerian word for "zombie." Though others have translated it as "turnip."
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #167 on: October 31, 2009, 01:50:09 am »

What impact did the rise of city-states in Mesopotamia and the other so-called cradles of civilization, like the Indus Valley and the Yangzte River basin, have on zombies?

The rise of civilization was both a blessing and a curse. Although it gave potential victims the ability to organize and combat the undead menace, it also presented that menace with a larger pool of potential victims.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #168 on: October 31, 2009, 02:01:17 am »

Books like Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel completely ignore the impact zombies have had on the course of human development. Does anyone out there have a global view of how profoundly the undead have influenced history?

The new book 1490 [by former Russian submarine commander Kadavar Devouravich-ed] postulates that the living dead got to the New World before Columbus, and were responsible for the annihilation of several indigenous American societies. According to its author, infected sailors from Europe were "thrown overboard by their crew, only to be washed ashore along the coast of The New World." The book is still highly controversial.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #169 on: October 31, 2009, 02:02:14 am »

Were any ancient cultures particularly successful in containing zombie outbreaks?

The Roman Empire was very efficient at dealing with the living dead. The fact that they referred to their zombie containment tactics simply as "XXXVII" shows how practical their legions were when dealing with a zombie outbreak.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #170 on: October 31, 2009, 02:02:31 am »

Literary evidence for ancient zombieism can be unrealiable. I'm thinking here particularly of Hanno of Carthage's ca. 500 B.C. reports of zombies on the African coast, which are highly suspect, to put it mildly. What can archaeology bring to the table in terms of the study of ancient zombies to augment or even correct textual scholarship?

Unfortunately most authors, then and now, are mainly just concerned with selling books. Hanno's accounts might have been "sexed up" by either himself, his editor, or even subsequent translators. Modern archaeology, largely unconcerned with profit margins, gives us an unbiased view of the history of zombies.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #171 on: October 31, 2009, 02:03:22 am »

When excavating a possible zombie archaeological site, what special precautions can be taken to protect the people digging at the site?

Be extremely careful when excavating sealed tombs. The lack of oxygen might have retarded the living dead's already slow rate of decomposition. Arctic or subarctic environments are considered the "hottest" danger zones because a reanimated ghoul may thaw even after centuries of frozen imprisonment; another reason to be concerned about global warming.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #172 on: October 31, 2009, 02:04:03 am »

Does the archaeological record hold any zombie-related lessons for us today? What can our ancestors teach us about meeting and, ultimately, defeating the undead menace?

The greatest lesson our ancestors have to teach us is to remain both vigilant and unafraid. We must endeavor to emulate the ancient Romans; calm, efficient, treating zombies as just one more item on a rather mundane checklist. Panic is the undead's greatest ally, doing far more damage, in, some cases, than the creatures themselves. The goal is to be prepared, not scared, to use our heads, and cut off theirs.

Max Brooks is the author of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.
Timeline of Known Prehistoric and Historic Zombie Outbreak

http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/zombies/
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #173 on: October 31, 2009, 02:04:57 am »



The figure in the so-called "Shaft of the Dead Man" in France's Lascaux cave is one of the most puzzling figures in Paleolithic art. It's likely the "man" is actually a zombie. Though this interpretation does not explain the equally puzzling "duck on the stick."
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #174 on: October 31, 2009, 02:05:38 am »

Timeline of Known Prehistoric and Historic Zombie Outbreaks
(Adapted from The Zombie Survival Guide)
60,000 B.C.    Katanda, Central Africa
3000 B.C.    Hierakonpolis, Egypt
500 B.C.    Africa (reports from Hanno of Carthage)
329 B.C.    Afghanistan
212 B.C.    China
A.D. 121    Fanum Cocidi, Caledonia (Scotland)
A.D. 140-41    Thamugadi, Mumidia (Algeria)
A.D. 156    Castra Regina, Germania
A.D. 177    Tolosa, Aquitania (southwest France)
A.D. 700    Frisia (northern Holland)
A.D. 850    Saxony
A.D. 1073    Jerusalem
A.D. 1253    Fiskurhofn, Greenland
A.D. 1587    Roanoke Island, North Carolina

    * Click here for more "Uncanny Archaeology"

-----
© 2006 by the Archaeological Institute of America
www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/zombies/

http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/zombies/
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #175 on: October 31, 2009, 02:08:10 am »

Zombie Attack at Hierakonpolis
November 6, 2007
by Renée Friedman

Weighing the evidence for and dating of Solanum virus outbreaks in early Egypt



This nondescript tomb (center) may be the location where the first historical evidence of a zombie attack was discovered. (Courtesy of the Hierakonpolis Expedition)
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #176 on: October 31, 2009, 02:09:30 am »

Hierakonpolis is a site famous for its many "firsts," so many, in fact, it is not easy to keep track of them all. So we are grateful(?) to Max Brooks for bringing to our attention that the site can also claim the title to the earliest recorded zombie attack in history. In his magisterial tome, The Zombie Survival Guide (2003), he informs us that in 1892, a British dig at Hierakonpolis unearthed a nondescript tomb containing a partially decomposed body, whose brain had been infected with the virus (Solanum) that turns people into zombies. In addition, thousands of scratch marks adorned every surface of the tomb, as if the corpse had tried to claw its way out! [Editor's note: click here for an interview with Max Brooks and a timeline of archaeologically documented zombie outbreaks.]
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #177 on: October 31, 2009, 02:10:45 am »

With the records available to us (Mr. Brooks obviously has access to others), the British dig can be identified as that conducted by Mssr. Somers Clarke and J.J. Tylor, during which they cleared the decorated tombs of Ny-ankh-pepy (Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom) and Horemkhawef (Second Intermediate Period) on Old Kingdom hill. The notes of Tylor are lost to us, but Clarke's are preserved in the Griffith Institute, Oxford. Unusually cryptic in his discussion, he makes no mention of such a momentous discovery. Thus we can only infer that the tomb in question is one of those in the adjoining courtyard, and just a short distance from the underground chamber we examined in 2006 (see Hierakonpolis 2006: Adventures Underground). The tomb in question may indeed be the one we use a cozy and sheltered spot to take our lunch while working on the Fort, as its plastered, but unpainted walls are indeed covered with innumerable scratch marks that defy photography. If is the case, we might quibble--purely for the sake of scientific accuracy--that the 3000 B.C. date ascribed for the attack should be revised downward to the Old Kingdom, but its premier historical position remains unaffected. [Editor's note: this proposed re-dating, if accepted, necessitates a revision of Brooks's zombie-attack timeline.]
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #178 on: October 31, 2009, 02:11:05 am »

On the other hand, in support of the earlier date, some have claimed that the famous Palette of Narmer (ca. 3000 B.C.), also from Hierakonpolis, far from recording a victory in the war of unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, is instead a celebration of the successful repulse of a zombie attack. Although we tend to focus on the verso where the king is shown smiting a kneeling enemy, it is the other side that is actually the front. It is the side with the depression for mixing the cosmetics for adorning the cult statue, and so it would seem that the scene of the king marching in procession to view a pile of decapitated bodies is the really important message. Nevertheless, while this scene may be evidence for zombie activity, reliance solely on pictorial records for such claims is scientifically questionable at best. There may be more to this in that Narmer's name means catfish-chisel, which sounds strange, and a catfish and chisel appear on the palette. But this could make sense if the palette refers to a victory over zombie forces. Perhaps Narmer wielded a large Nile catfish, Clarias?, grasping the tail and using it as a sort of black jack to stun the zombies, then removed their heads with a chisel. While it is an attractive idea, no serious archaeologist would hang their fedora on it without further evidence.
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Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #179 on: October 31, 2009, 02:11:54 am »



Decapitated bodies on the front of the Narmer palette: overview shows Narmer, at left, with catfish and chisel motifs at top center. See detail of decapitated bodies. (Courtesy of the Hierakonpolis Expedition)
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