Archaeology in the News! Silk Road FTW

Just another reason why I ♥ the general Silk Road areas so very much.<div><span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”font-size: small;”>*NOTE* I added photos since the article didn’t originally have any, including one of Cai Junnian and another woman from the same area.</span>

<div><p class=”MsoNormal”><span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”font-size: large;”><b>Experts to unravel mystery behind European-looking Chinese</b></span></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>2010-11-21 17:00:00<o:p></o:p></p>  <meta charset=”utf-8″><meta equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html;charset=UTF-8″><img src=”; style=”float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 320px; height: 214px;” border=”0″ alt=”” id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5542448037222176866″ /><p class=”MsoNormal”>Beijing, Nov 21 (IANS) Anthropologists have begun a study to ascertain if the European-looking Chinese in northwest China are the descendants of a lost army of the Roman Empire.</p><p class=”MsoNormal”><o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>Experts at the newly set up Italian Studies Centre of the Lanzhou University in Gansu province will excavate a section of the 7,000-km Silk road that linked Asia and Europe over 2,000 years ago, to see if a legion of Roman soldiers settled in the country, China Daily said Saturday.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>‘We hope to prove the legend by digging and discovering more evidence of China’s early contact with the Roman Empire,’ said Yuan Honggeng, head of the centre.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>Before Marco Polo travelled to China in the 13th century, the only known contact between the two empires was a visit by Roman diplomats in 166 A.D.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>Chinese archeologists were, therefore, surprised in the 1990s to find the remains of an ancient fortification in Liqian, a remote town in Yongchang county on the edge of a desert, which was strikingly similar to Roman defence structures.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>They were even more astonished to find Western-looking people with green, deep-set eyes, long hooked noses and blond hair.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>Though the villagers said they had never travelled outside the county, they worshipped bulls and their favourite game was similar to the ancient Romans’ bull-fighting dance.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>DNA tests in 2005 confirmed some of the villagers were indeed of Caucasian origin, leading many experts to conclude they are descendants of an ancient Roman army headed by General Marcus Crassus.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>In 53 B.C., Crassus was defeated and beheaded by the Parthians, a tribe occupying what is now Iran, putting an end to Rome’s eastward expansion.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>But a 6,000-strong army led by Crassus’ eldest son apparently escaped and was never found again. Though some anthropologists are convinced the Caucasian-looking villagers in Yongchang county are the descendants of the soldiers, others are not so certain.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>‘The county is on the Silk Road, so there were many chances for trans-national marriages,’ said Yang Gongle, a professor at Beijing Normal University.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>‘The ‘foreign’ origin of the Yongchang villagers, as proven by the DNA tests, does not necessarily mean they are of ancient Roman origin.’<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>Xie Xiaodong, a geneticist from Lanzhou University, also sounded a skeptical note.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>‘Even if they are descendants of Romans, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily from that Roman army,’ Xie said.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>Their mysterious identity has brought wealth and fame to some of the villagers.<o:p></o:p></p>  <meta charset=”utf-8″><img src=”; border=”0″ alt=”” id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5542446883936151266″ style=”float: right; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 10px; cursor: pointer; width: 320px; height: 213px; ” /><p class=”MsoNormal”>Cai Junnian has yellow wavy hair, a hooked nose and green eyes. A DNA test in 2005 confirmed he is of European descent. It made him famous almost overnight.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>Reporters, filmmakers, historians and geneticists from around the world pursued him. He was invited to meetings with the Italian consul in Shanghai and even appeared in a documentary shot by an Italian TV company last year.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>His friends call him Cai Luoma, which means Cai the Roman.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>Cai’s fellow villager Luo Ying looks even more European. He has been hired by a Shanghai firm as their ‘image ambassador’.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>A Beijing film producer will spend millions to turn the villagers’ story into a film.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>The Italian Studies Centre of the Lanzhou University is a platform for experts to further research the subject but ‘the work will certainly be complicated’, said Italian Ambassador to China Riccardo Sessa.<o:p></o:p></p>  <p class=”MsoNormal”>The centre will also help Chinese to learn Italian language and culture, he said. ‘More exchanges will certainly be helpful in unraveling the mystery.’</p><div>Source</div><div>

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The Importance of Branding

Greetings once again, gentle readers! I’ve noticed a trend in the internet/mediatised archaeology world and have been ranting about it to those around me but not necessarily online. Now, the rant will go digital! Hooray!

I’ve noticed that an increasing number of people are creating media-friendly versions of themselves in the world of archaeology. I do realize that this includes my silly website but there is another factor that I am not necessarily putting in huge bold letters at the top of the page with auto-play music (auto-play=NO): Indiana Jones. Don’t get me wrong, I love Indy as much as the next person and definitely as much as the next archaeologist/anthropologist (I’m not even going to get into the fiasco that is Crystal Skull. Spielberg, Lucas, you better redeem yourself and the franchise with Indy 5 or we’re done professionally) but I’m not trying to be “The Next Indy”. I did not get into archaeology because of Indiana Jones. In fact, I was well into my Egyptology phase before I had even seen the movies! I was something of a strange and precocious child…but I think that may be a requirement for archaeology. So many people with good, solid degrees and/or PhDs in their various fields of expertise are creating websites and personas but presenting themselves as a kind of ‘Modern Indiana Jones’. This is all well and good, but I’m getting a bit tired of EVERYONE being ‘Dr. So-and-so: archaeologist, adventurer, explorer’ and posing in cargo pants looking off to the horizon in search of their next quest. I mean, this is all well and good, but at this point in the game it’s tired. Not to mention, all of the people doing this are men! Ladies! Where you at? I know there are many attractive field-going ladies in the archaeological community (I have worked with a few of them so I can vouch for their existence) but all I ever see are men! Gentlemen with cargo pants and more than a few with a fedora to complete the outfit (leather attaché optional) and they all seem to end up on TV running around poking at ruins. I’m all for more archaeology on TV but why must everyone have to use the old and tired Indiana Jones bit in a desperate attempt to create viewer interest? I know for a fact that people who watch history-themed shows on TV like Indiana Jones, but don’t need it to be interested in a show about ancient ruins and whatnot. Not to mention, there is a definite trend towards using a dashing male host/presenter who is dashing but has NO experience or credentials in the field! (Psychologist, former Air Force pilot, survivalist…just to name a few) Is it so much to ask for a host or presenter who actually has a degree in archaeology? Someone who doesn’t feel the need to pander to the Indy-factor or wear only ‘adventure denim’ in the field? Again, I cry to the heavens: where my ladies at??

With that in mind, gentle readers, I present to you my new websona: Annelise Baer, MA. Archaeologist and adventurer-on-a-budget. What does this mean, you may ask? It means I explore places within at least 2 tanks of gas from the Los Angeles area, ideally less, so I can save that money and use it to buy food.. I don’t have anywhere near enough money to go on some amazing expedition to someplace with big ruins and ancient mysteries. I have about $500, and I need that to pay bills and buy gas to drive to work. There have been some exciting trips in recent years, but those have been due to great timing and came with a bit of a price tag so I still rock the debt. It was totally worth it though! I do own multiple pairs of cargo pants and have used them in actual archaeological situations so the dirt embedded in the fabric is genuine. I’ve managed, by great luck and by agreeing to a large amount of debt, to visit some great places but those were I’ve accomplished very little in the academic world beyond obtaining-of-degrees due to a marked lack of funds which contributed to a very short stint in the world of graduate studies. I have a camera, several memory cards, a trusty trowel, a habit of getting sassy when talking about history and a thirst for knowledge about anything and everything pertaining to the ancient world. That’s it. I know I’m only one person/archaeologist and I don’t even have a PhD (…yet?) but dammit if I can’t try to change things!

Oh, and I highly recommend checking out (if only for 5 minutes) the new season of Ancient Aliens. Specifically on 11/18/10. That would be the episode I’ve been working on ^^