November 23, 2015

Lost civilization island. . . . found

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:14 pm

An entire ancient island has been rediscovered in the Aegean

An analysis of pottery shards, architecture, and other historic remnants in the nearby Bademli village helped the team identify the island, which linked up to the mainland to form the tip of the peninsula thanks to thousands of years of sediment build-up. The team drilled down into the filled-up gap that once separated Kane from the Turkish coast to discover that it was made up of loose soil and rock.

“It had been a matter of discussion if the islands here were the Arginus Islands or not until our research began,” one of the team, archaeologist Felix Pirson from the German Archaeology Institute, told the Doğan News Agency.

Aha. I had to read it a couple of times before I figured out that it’s still there but is not an island anymore, it’s part of the peninsula.

November 19, 2015

Thursday RIP.

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 3:56 pm

A bit of sad news for this Thursday:

Dear Colleagues, Students, Alumni, and Friends,
I regret to inform you that Professor Emeritus William Longacre passed away
peacefully in Tucson, AZ on November 18 after a short illness. Dr. Longacre
will be interred in the family plot in Houghton, MI in the spring. Funeral
arrangements are pending. The School of Anthropology will host a celebration
of life in Tucson, also in the spring.
Bill’s receipt of the Raymond H. Thompson Award will be acknowledged at the
School of Anthropology Centennial Gala Dinner on December 4. Following
Bill’s wishes, the dinner will be a celebration of our centennial year and
an opportunity to enjoy good food, drink, and conversation with colleagues
and friends.
Diane Austin
Professor and Director
School of Anthropology
University of Arizona

We studied Longacre’s (and Hill’s) work on architectural analysis of room contents a lot, mainly for critical reasons. I haven’t looked into that for a looooooong time, but it’s dashedly difficult to determine room function based on contents alone (for a number of reasons) and then to try to get social structure out of that is iffy and a lot of ink was spilled on it. Still, a very influential bunch of work.
I uploaded a copy of the 1964 paper for reference purposes ( Feel free to discuss.
Longacre, W. A.
1964 Archeology as anthropology: a case study. Science 144:1454-1455.

October 24, 2015

Archaeoblog is going to the, well, you know. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 5:44 am

Dogs were first domesticated in Central Asia, not China or Europe

Sometime before fifteen thousand years ago, humans started domesticating Eurasian gray wolves. Researchers are in agreement that this happened somewhere on the Eurasian continent, but getting any more specific than that has proven difficult. A new paper in PNAS suggests that the region around modern Mongolia or Nepal might be where it all began.

Previous evidence has painted a conflicting picture. The earliest archaeological evidence of dog domestication comes from Europe and Siberia. Meanwhile, genetic evidence from mitochondrial DNA (passed down to individuals by their mothers) and Y chromosomes (which travel down the male line) places the origin of dogs in southern China around 16,000 years ago.

Who knows where this is going to end up. The “village dog” idea is what people tend to imagine when batting around ideas of how dogs became domesticated initially: hanging around villages where there was a source of food garbage. That was one thing that bothered me in Egypt where there are a LOT of village dogs. At first I had assumed that they were considered almost vermin and wasn’t it awful that no one cared about all those dogs? Although not what we would think of as “caring for” them, the villagers would feed them and look out for them in some ways, largely because they acted as sentinels more or less. Although there has been some interbreeding with the dogs that (mostly) foreigners have brought in, they tend to look remarkably similar: like a basic light brown/tan plain old dog. But, as the article notes, they have a lot of genetic diversity.

October 19, 2015

Bodies V. Data

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 11:18 am

Human Bodies Vs. Data: Doing the Right Thing With Native Remains

Indians and anthropologists can get along in an atmosphere of mutual respect. So I always believed and tried to assume, though I can’t deny I’ve had some nasty battles when working on NAGPRA issues for the Texas Indian Bar Association over the remains of dead Indians that I persist in understanding as the remains of dead humans, something more than scientific data.

NAGPRA was a heavy political lift over many years. Tim McKeown’s book, In the Smaller Scope of Conscience, is an excellent blow-by-blow of the legislative fight that resulted in NAGPRA, but that battle was preceded by many public battles over the status of Indian remains and grave goods. By the time NAGPRA became law in 1990, it was fair to ask what was to become of the relationship between the academic discipline of anthropology and American Indians?

There has always been a tendency on the rez to make fun of cultural anthropologists in a friendly way, but physical anthropologists were stirring up genuine anger.

Really not much examination of nor insight into the issue, mainly just a propaganda piece.

October 16, 2015

Make up your minds!

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 9:26 am

Do We Really Need to Sleep 7 Hours a Night?

Among sleep researchers it is widely believed that people sleep differently today than they did 150 years ago. Many argue that the invention of the electric light bulb in the late 1800s — and all the artificially lit environments that followed — dramatically changed our sleep patterns. Exposure to artificial light at night, whether from light bulbs or computer screens, throws off the body’s biological clock, delaying and reducing sleep, experts say.

Some historians have also argued that it is not natural for people to sleep straight through the night. They say that before the introduction of artificial light it was normal for people to sleep in two intervals separated by an hour of wakefulness, a phenomenon known as segmented sleep, or “first” and “second” sleep.
. . .
Among those they chose to follow were the Hadza people, who spend their days hunting and foraging in northern Tanzania, much as their ancestors have for tens of thousands of years; the San of Namibia, who have lived as hunter-gatherers in the Kalahari for at least 20,000 years; and the Tsimané, a seminomadic group that lives in the Andean foothills of Bolivia, near the farthest reaches of the human migration out of Africa.

I have a couple of problems with the article. The HG’s in question probably aren’t entirely representative of some Paleolithic (or Pleistocene) ancestors; that denies that any change has taken place over the past few thousand years, plus they’re not entirely ‘pristine’ by any measure. Their relative health also isn’t all that directly tied to the amount of sleep they get either. But they do provide useful critiques of sleeping patterns, with (one would assume, even though one shouldn’t) data to back up their assessments of the amount and times of sleep they get. I wonder how good their data is on the calories expended, etc.? I know a lot of the earlier data on HGs has been subject to criticism.

They also mention the “first sleep, second sleep” idea that I’ve at least referred to as well here. True, there’s little hard data on it, but it is at least mentioned in contemporary writings. I also thought the temperature hypothesis was interesting. I’ve read in more than one place that a cooler room makes it easier to sleep, and that is my personal experience as well (yay anecdata!).

Of course, there’s the usual caveats about not believing much of anything social/behavioral science says anyway. Don’t trust much of anything beyond physics.

October 9, 2015

Heads will did roll

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 11:52 am

Excavation of Mexican site reveals decapitation of conquistadors

Some place the number of people in the group as high as 550. Cortes had been forced to leave the convoy on its own while trying to rescue his troops from an uprising in what is now Mexico City.
Members of the captured convoy were held prisoner in door-less cells, where they were fed over six months. Little by little, the town sacrificed, and apparently ate, the horses, men and women.
“The aim of the sacrifices … was to ask the gods for protection from the strange interlopers,” the National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement.
But pigs brought by the Spaniards for food were apparently viewed with such suspicion that they were killed whole and left uneaten. “The pigs were sacrificed and hidden in a well, but there is no evidence that they were cooked,” Martinez said.
In contrast, the skeletons of the captured Europeans were torn apart and bore cut marks indicating the meat was removed from the bones.

Apparently it didn’t work. Should have eaten the pigs.

September 30, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 11:52 am

Amid budget fight, Illinois State Museum prepares to close

Last week paleoecologist Eric Grimm, the director of science at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, rented an 8-meter-long truck, bought $500 worth of lumber, and built temporary shelves in the back. Then, with the help of his wife and former coworkers, he loaded his cargo: roughly 30 sediment cores drilled from lake bottoms.

The cores, which hold pollen grains, minerals, and other clues that help researchers reconstruct past environments, had been stored at the museum where Grimm has worked for 28 years. But the museum is scheduled to close on 1 October as the result of a tense budget standoff between the state’s Democrat-led General Assembly and its Republican governor. So Grimm is moving his collection to the University of Minnesota’s National Lacustrine Core Repository (LacCore) in Minneapolis. And he’s retiring from his post at the museum—with a certain sense of dismay.

“It’s a travesty,” Grimm says of the political stalemate that has dominated Illinois for months, and the consequences for the museum. “I think it’s political corruption and malevolent anti-intellectualism.”

Political corruption? In Illinois? The dickens you say.

These are, of course, the same people who continue selling lottery tickets they don’t pay off.

September 23, 2015

I had a story to link. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:04 pm

But the USA Today site irritated me with gigantic popups that I couldn’t get rid of that I decided not to. Scum sucking pig-dogs.


Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:02 pm

Archaeology: Book about America’s discovery gets it all wrong

In the current issue of the journal American Antiquity, Larry Zimmerman, an archaeologist from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, reviews one of those books, The Lost Colonies of Ancient America: A comprehensive Guide to the Pre-Columbian Visitors Who Really Discovered America, written by Frank Joseph.

Joseph writes that there were pre-Columbian visits by Sumerians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Celts and others. An apparently non-facetious blurb on the book’s cover asks, “Who didn’t discover America?”

. . .

Why don’t archaeologists take these claims seriously?

Joseph says they “cannot deviate from an academic party line without jeopardizing their professional careers,” and so accept “only those facts that support mainstream opinion.”

That’s pretty much what everyone says, from Erich von Däniken onwards. Not that we don’t tend to be wedded to our theories; it took an awful lot of prodding to get anyone to accept pre-Clovis sites, after all.

Epic archaeology

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 11:26 am

The lost tunnels of Liverpool

On a summer day in 2001, Coe and a small band of investigators literally “broke into” a suspected tunnel in the Paddington area of Edge Hill. With the help of a digger, they made a small hole in the roof of what turned out to be an old cellar: the upper level of one of the tunnel systems.
Coe and a few others gingerly ventured in via a harness. The chamber was full of rubble piled so high, walking upright was impossible. Still, the explorers were thrilled. “It was quite exhilarating when we found that opening,” Coe recalls.
Eventually, three different sites in the area would offer access to various bits of the tunnels. But excavating them was – and still is – difficult work. Over the last 15 years teams of volunteers, digging up to twice a week, have removed more than 120 skips of waste material. They have revealed forgotten cellar systems and, in several cases, multiple levels of tunnels – some with stone steps leading down to deeper caverns. There are also some debris-filled passages branching off in odd directions; it’s not clear how far they go or to where they ultimately lead.

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