At one time or another, we’ve all seen the private workings of a 19th-century brothel, thanks to the silver screen. My own favorite film on this subject happens to be something that you will only see on the Turner Movie Channel these days: McCabe and Mrs. Miller, directed by none other than Robert Altman.
Did Altman get any of it right? Well, archaeologists have dug a wide range of 19th century brothels in recent years, including a very upscale establishment in Washington D.C. that once catered to politicians. Now an ongoing research project by Boston University archaeologist Mary Beaudry is shedding light on the life of a brothel madam, Mrs. Lake, and her employees at 27 and 29 Endicott Street, Boston. For more, see my new post at The Last Word on Nothing.
In Science this week, I write about some very ingenious research that a new breed of archaeologists–archaeoentomologists, as they like to be known–are carrying out on insect remains recovered from ancient sites. By poring over fly puparia preserved in an 1800-year-old grave at the Moche site of Huaca de la Luna in Peru, French archaeoentomologist Jean-Bernard Huchet has completed a CSI-style study of Moche burial practices. And by studying small weevil-shaped holes in Jomon pots dating to at least 9000 years ago, Japanese archaeologist Hiroki Obata and his team raise the possibility of very early agriculture in Japan.
The article lies behind a paywall, unfortunately, but you can read the short summary here.
Photo: Painted facade of the Huaca de la Luna, Trujillo, Peru. Source: Martin St-Amant