Sharing a meal, sometimes sitting face to face with strangers, is a curious act that sets humans apart from all other animals on the planet. So strange is this behaviour, yet so important to the development of society and communication, that plenty of scientists and philosophers have tried to decode the origins and history of the human meal.
Perhaps most famously, Claude Lévi-Strauss proclaimed that cooking marked the very origin of human cultural progress. More accessibly, Margaret Visser’s bestselling Much Depends on Dinner introduced the complex anthropology of the modern meal to a broad audience.
March 29, 2007
Battlefield archaeology update More remnants of battle uncovered at Antietam
In a sun-dappled field, where molten lead once rained from the sky, researchers armed with metal detectors listened for evidence from America’s bloodiest day.
Stephen R. Potter, who headed a team of National Park Service archaeologists at Antietam National Battlefield, said Wednesday that the group, which included a couple of amateur metal detectorists, was studying an area of Piper Orchard where the 7th Maine fled from a smaller Confederate force.
“I don’t think they would’ve been able to drive the Maine guys back if they wouldn’t have had the artillery that they had, because what we’re finding out here is pretty nasty stuff,” Potter said.
A group of amateur and professional archaeologists will look for the foundation of a mid-1800s farmhouse on Highpoint when they examine where York County is planning to put a parking lot.
Members of the local chapter of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology have already conducted a general archaeological study of Highpoint, a plot of land seized by the county for a proposed park of about 725 acres in Lower Windsor Township.
Now, this just mite be news Archaeologists reconstruct the story of Inca empire from fossilized mites
Archaeologists have gleaned important clues on the rise and fall of the mighty Inca empire and the civilizations that existed before it from fossilized mites that survived on the dung of llama, the South American domesticated beast of burden.
The fossils preserved in sediments at a lake about 50 kilometers from Cuzco, which formed the center of activity of the Inca empire, shows how the empire grew in size and influence in the early 15th century. When the Spanish conquistadors came to Peru in the 1530s, the empire was stretching from the current day Colombian border to the middle of Chile. However, in a matter of 100 years, the 30 million population in the region was reduced by 90 per cent, afflicted by newer diseases like influenza and smallpox, brought by the Europeans.
I’m guessing the mites washed in (blew in?) on sediment carried into the lake. But this part:
The research shows that after a period of sharp growth, the civilization’s power waned even before the arrival of the Spanish because of the arrival of the European diseases to which the people or the animals had no resistance.
shows how disease can travel well in advance of the actual people who introduced it.
Non-archaeology post No need to thank dinosaur-killing asteroid for mammalian success
It is a natural history tale that every third grader knows: The dinosaurs ruled the Earth for hundreds of millions of years, until an asteroid struck the Yucatan Peninsula and triggered a mass extinction that allowed the ancestors of today’s mammals to thrive.
The asteroid part of the story may still hold true, but a new study published in the March 29 issue of the journal Nature challenges the prominent hypothesis that a mass extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago played a major role in the diversification of today’s mammals.
. . .
“The previous evidence showed that we did see a die-off of the dinosaurs and an increase in the rise of the mammals roughly 65 million years ago,” Gittleman said. “But the fossil record, by its very nature, is patchy. We have found that when you fuse all of the molecular trees with the fossil evidence, the timing does not work. The preponderance of mammals really didn’t take off until 10 to 15 million years after the demise of the dinosaurs.”
I wonder if there is still some delay effect. It’s been hypothesized that the Cambrian explosion had its roots much earlier.
Behind every wave of disgust that comes your way may be a biological imperative much greater than the urge to lose your lunch, according to a growing body of research by a UCLA anthropologist.
“The reason we experience disgust today is that the response protected our ancestors,” said Dan Fessler, associate professor of anthropology and director of UCLA’s Center for Behavior, Evolution, and Culture. “The emotion allowed our ancestors to survive long enough to produce offspring, who in turn passed the same sensitivities on to us.”
A team from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and the University of Almeroa has completed its second part of the “Proyecto La Puntilla”, an archaeological expedition to the Peruvian province of Nazca, where last year it discovered a new type of construction. The latest findings show that a new political power based on the exercise of violence emerged on the south coast of Peru two thousand years ago. There was a State in which an aristocracy, based in Cahuachi, exercised its dominion on other, poorer communities in the Nazca Valley. The team has also observed practices such as cranial deformation.
The excavations at the necropolis of El Trigal have uncovered new information on the repercussions of the emergence of the State in southern Peru. The archaeologists have found that El Trigal graves are very simple, in contrast with the extravagant tombs of the aristocracy around Nazca.
What began as exploratory studies in Kerala, has thrown up enough artefacts and structures of two millennia old Indo-Roman trade era to delight archaeologists, who are looking for the lost port of Muziris.
Archaeological teams in Pattanam village, near the port city of Kochi have been working on a site, which has yielded pottery, amphora, beads and other artefacts that are reminiscent of the ancient Romans.
That’s actually pretty neat, as one doesn’t expect Roman stuff in India. Or at least I didn’t.
March 27, 2007
There is an update on KV-63 up.
Slavery archaeology update Team checks shipwreck’s ties to those aiding slaves
An archaeological team is trying to determine if a Lake Michigan shipwreck might have had ties to the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves escape from the South during the 1800s.
A member of the Briggs Project Team said the group has begun analyzing the wreckage off Ogden Dunes beach and has combed through historical records in LaPorte and Porter counties for information about the role the area played in providing fugitive slaves with an exit route to freedom in Canada.
“There’s a good possibility you have a big piece of history here in your back yard,” Roger Barski told guests of the Ogden Dunes Historical Society during a presentation on the team’s research Sunday.
Centuries-old human remains found at Cinnamon Bay are now one step closer to being properly reinterred.
Virgin Islands National Park Archaeologist Ken Wild and his interns earlier this month began digging a second pit where the remains will be buried.
The remains are likely those of men, women and children who died in a cholera epidemic. They could have lived during the 1680s to the 1800s, which is when the Cinnamon Bay plantation was in operation.
“There is a good possibility they were not enslaved, because after Emancipation, there was a cholera epidemic there that caused 21 deaths in a week’s time,” said Wild.