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  • July 2, 2011
  • 12:21 PM
  • 2,294 views

Community & Kinship at Catalhoyuk

by Cris Campbell in Genealogy of Religion

Strange things are afoot at Catalhoyuk (7400-5600 BCE), one of the earliest and most important Neolithic (i.e., sedentary and agricultural) sites known to archaeology. As I noted in Bones, Burials and Ancestors, mortuary practices at Catalhoyuk were unusual and often involved secondary burial in the floors of homes.

The assumption has always been that these were [...]... Read more »

Pilloud, Marin A., & Larsen, Clark Spencer. (2011) “Official” and “practical” kin: Inferring social and community structure from dental phenotype at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, Turkey. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. info:/10.1002/ajpa.21520

  • June 30, 2011
  • 05:11 PM
  • 1,701 views

Twisted Saga of “World’s Oldest Ritual”

by Cris Campbell in Genealogy of Religion

In 2006, University of Oslo archaeologist Sheila Coulson gave an open lecture about her work at a small cave in the Tsodilo Hills of northern Botswana. Although her lecture focused on Middle Stone Age tools recovered from the cave and an unusual rock formation that looked to her like a snake or python, she also [...]... Read more »

Robbins, Lawrence, Campbell, Alec, Brook, George, & Murphy, Michael. (2007) World’s Oldest Ritual Site? The “Python Cave” at Tsodilo Hills World Heritage Site, Botswana. Nyame Akuma, 67(June), 2-6. info:/

  • June 29, 2011
  • 04:18 PM
  • 1,546 views

Through the Language Glass (Part 2) [reposted]

by Chris in The Lousy Linguist

This is part 2 of my review of Guy Deutscher's new book Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages. This covers The Language Lens (129-249). Part 1 is here. This review will cover the scientific evidence that Deutscher reviews suggesting that language affects thought, and will end with a shocking proposal.To sum up my review of part one: meh. Okay, we've established that culture can influence language. This is a lot less controversial than Deutscher makes it see........ Read more »

Guy deutscher. (2010) Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages. Metropolitan Books. info:/

  • June 29, 2011
  • 07:00 AM
  • 1,754 views

Old Germs, or Paleomicrobiology

by Michelle Ziegler in Contagions

This will be the first in a series of posts looking at the technical and practical aspects of studying ancient pathogens, or paleomicrobiology. First let’s look at why its worth spending time, money and a lot of creativity on old germs. There are many reasons why directly studying ancient microbes is worthwhile. From a historical [...]... Read more »

  • June 29, 2011
  • 12:33 AM
  • 1,535 views

Chaco before Chaco: The Basketmaker III Period

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The Basketmaker III period (ca. AD 500 to 750) is a very important time for understanding the prehistoric Southwest.  Maize agriculture had been introduced earlier, although exactly how early is still a matter of debate, and it was definitely well-established by the immediately preceding Basketmaker II period, but Basketmaker III saw the introduction of beans, [...]... Read more »

  • June 28, 2011
  • 06:16 PM
  • 1,702 views

JAMA on 60s Psychedelic Drug Culture

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

An amusing semi-anthropological study was published in JAMA by Ludwig and Levine in 1965. It was based on extensive interviews with 27 "postnarcotic drug addict inpatients" who were treated at a hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. The specific drugs of interest included peyote (from the peyotl cactus plant), mescaline, LSD, and psilocybin. The current availability of each drug, most popular methods of intake, slang terms, psychoactive properties, and subcultural norms were discussed. Hallucinogens ........ Read more »

LUDWIG AM, & LEVINE J. (1965) PATTERNS OF HALLUCINOGENIC DRUG ABUSE. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association, 92-6. PMID: 14233246  

  • June 28, 2011
  • 01:55 AM
  • 1,155 views

How Old Is Pueblo Bonito?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The “Chacoan era” is a period of about 100 years in the eleventh and early twelfth centuries AD during which Chaco Canyon was at the center of some sort of system that covered a large portion of the northern Southwest.  The exact nature and exact extent of that system are endlessly debated, but the period [...]... Read more »

  • June 27, 2011
  • 04:41 PM
  • 1,616 views

Jungle Geometry: Who Needs Euclid?

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

At some point in your teenage years, you probably kept a compass and straightedge in your backpack, learned the ways to prove two triangles are congruent, and knew what a secant was. It all had a taste of the classical about it: Euclid, Archimedes and Pythagoras had figured everything out and passed it down to us. But geometry may be more democratic than it seems. As a group of native Amazonians showed, you don't need to go to school to explain Euclid.French researcher Veronique Izard and h........ Read more »

Izard, V., Pica, P., Spelke, E., & Dehaene, S. (2011) From the Cover: Flexible intuitions of Euclidean geometry in an Amazonian indigene group. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(24), 9782-9787. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1016686108  

  • June 27, 2011
  • 04:08 PM
  • 643 views

Bloodsport in Australopithecus africanus?

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

A few months ago in a post about the ilium and cannibals, I relayed a quote by Dr. Raymond Dart who was the first to recognize (and name) the hominid genus Australopithecus, back in 1925. I'd also mentioned that he was described [in a reference that escapes me] as "blood-thirsty." This macabre descriptor came to mind again, as I'm reading his (1948) description of the MLD 2 mandible, of a juvenile A. africanus from Makapansgat cave in South Africa (figure is from the paper):"[Individuals represe........ Read more »

Dart, R. (1948) The adolescent mandible of Australopithecus prometheus. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 6(4), 391-412. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.1330060410  

  • June 27, 2011
  • 01:13 PM
  • 1,360 views

World’s Oldest Temple & Rorschach Rock

by Cris Campbell in Genealogy of Religion

“It has long been recognized that any interpretation of prehistoric religious behavior should be based on concrete archaeological evidence. Yet evidence for Paleolithic belief systems is extremely scanty, and that which does exist is usually enigmatic — or as [Mircea] Eliade has expressed it, semantically opaque” (Freeman & Echegaray 1981).
Three lines of evidence are typically [...]... Read more »

  • June 27, 2011
  • 02:54 AM
  • 2,081 views

“It’s Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry”

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice




Photo credit here.
Readers may find that the title for this post triggers a certain refrain by Chicago (or BoysIIMen, depending on how old you are). Apologies in advance to those of you who may find yourself humming the chorus on your drive home or while walking through the halls of your workplace or campus. Or while grocery shopping. Or brushing your teeth. (The power of suggestion is a curious thing.) Of course, you may question how sorry I really am considering that I made a conscious deci........ Read more »

de Waal, FB. (2000) Primates--A Natural Heritage of Conflict Resolution. Science (New York, N.Y.), 289(5479), 586-90. PMID: 10915614  

Schlenker, B. and Darby, B. (1981) The Use of Apologies in Social Predicaments. Social Psychology Quarterly., 44(3), 271-278. info:/

  • June 26, 2011
  • 03:24 PM
  • 1,896 views

To toke or not to toke... Will Shakespeare's bones tell us? (Uh, no.)

by Kristina Killgrove in Powered By Osteons

A palaeoanthropologist wants to dig up Shakespeare in a bizarre attempt to use his teeth to show he smoked pot. Yeah, not gonna happen.... Read more »

J.F. Thackeray, N.J. van der Merwe, & T.A. van der Merwe. (2001) Chemical analysis of residues from seventeeth-century clay pipes from Stratford-upon-Avon and environs. South African Journal of Science, 19-21. info:/

  • June 25, 2011
  • 04:25 PM
  • 1,346 views

World’s Oldest Rock Symbols?

by Cris Campbell in Genealogy of Religion

The holy grail of archaeology is to discover the earliest evidence of symbolic thought in humans. Generally speaking, symbolism means that one thing represents or stands for another. In its most basic form, symbolic thought is iconic: an object in the world (e.g., rock) is related to an idea in the mind (e.g., person).
Because this [...]... Read more »

Bednarik, R. (2003) A Figurine from the African Acheulian. Current Anthropology, 44(3), 405-413. DOI: 10.1086/374900  

d'Errico, Francesco, & Nowell, April. (2000) A New Look at the Berekhat Ram Figurine: Implications for the Origins of Symbolism. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 123-167. info:/10.1017/S0959774300000056

  • June 24, 2011
  • 08:58 AM
  • 2,040 views

The Great Atlantic Divide – Why Europeans Riot (but American’s don’t)

by Stuart Farrimond in Dr Stu's Science Blog

A fireball erupts as civilians shriek and run for cover. A security officer burns and a gas mask-wearing man dashes through the smoke. Men beat each another with bats and stones. Shots are fired and grenades hurled as a city centre descends into chaos. Is this a scene from a warzone? No – this is … Continue reading »... Read more »

Alesina, A., Di Tella, R., & MacCulloch, R. (2004) Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?. Journal of Public Economics, 88(9-10), 2009-2042. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2003.07.006  

  • June 22, 2011
  • 07:05 PM
  • 1,183 views

Warren K. Moorehead, Cartoon Villain

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In the spring of 1892, an expedition headed by Warren K. Moorehead traveled through northwestern New Mexico to collect archaeological specimens for the Chicago World’s Fair to be held the next year.  Moorehead was a young man from Ohio who had already conducted considerable excavations there that had drawn the attention of Frederic Ward Putnam [...]... Read more »

  • June 22, 2011
  • 12:48 AM
  • 1,455 views

Chipped Stone

by teofilo in Gambler's House

When it comes to stone tools, archaeologists make a basic distinction between “chipped-stone” and “ground-stone” tools.  Chipped-stone tools are generally those that need to be sharp, such as projectile points, knives, scrapers, and drills, and are typically made of hard stone that keeps an edge.  Some ground-stone tools, such as axes, are also sharp, but [...]... Read more »

  • June 21, 2011
  • 12:43 PM
  • 1,725 views

Post-Hoc Supernatural Punishers

by Cris Campbell in Genealogy of Religion

In the inaugural issue of Religion, Brain & Behavior, Jeffrey Schloss and Michael Murray examine the idea that belief in supernatural agents is adaptive because these agents are punishers: supernatural policeman if you will. This policing can have two effects. First, belief in supernatural punishment can enhance within group cooperation. Second, it can reduce cheating [...]... Read more »

Schloss, Jeffrey P., & Murray, Michael J. (2011) Evolutionary Accounts of Belief in Supernatural Punishment: A Critical Review. Religion, Brain , 1(1), 46-99. info:/10.1080/2153599X.2011.558707

Brandhorst, Mario. (2010) Naturalism and the Genealogy of Moral Institutions. The Journal of Nietzsche Studies, 5-28. info:/

  • June 21, 2011
  • 12:30 PM
  • 2,169 views

Lice, Ancient DNA and Napoleon's Grand Army

by Michelle Ziegler in Contagions

Life in Napoleon’s Grand Army wasn’t always so grand. The Russian campaign was a disaster, recently most tangibly manifest in the mass grave found at Vilnius, Lithuania, in 2001. Local records suggested that the remains belonged to Napoleon’s soldiers who paused at Vilnius during their retreat from Moscow in 1812. The densely packed bodies were buried at the same time leaving behind buttons, buckles and gear of 40 regiments of Napoleon’s army. The initial trench revealed ........ Read more »

Raoult D, Dutour O, Houhamdi L, Jankauskas R, Fournier PE, Ardagna Y, Drancourt M, Signoli M, La VD, Macia Y.... (2006) Evidence for louse-transmitted diseases in soldiers of Napoleon's Grand Army in Vilnius. The Journal of infectious diseases, 193(1), 112-20. PMID: 16323139  

  • June 21, 2011
  • 06:23 AM
  • 1,028 views

We stand on the shoulders of cultural giants

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

In reading The cultural niche: Why social learning is essential for human adaptation in PNAS I couldn’t help but think back to a conversation I had with a few old friends in Evanston in 2003. They were graduate students in mathematics at Northwestern, and at one point one of them expressed some serious frustration at the fact that so many of the science and business students in his introductory calculus courses simply wanted to “learn” a disparate set of techniques, rather than........ Read more »

Robert Boyd, Peter J. Richerson, & Joseph Henrich. (2011) The cultural niche: Why social learning is essential for human adaptation. PNAS. info:/10.1073/pnas.1100290108

  • June 21, 2011
  • 06:23 AM
  • 924 views

We stand on the shoulders of cultural giants

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

In reading The cultural niche: Why social learning is essential for human adaptation in PNAS I couldn’t help but think back to a conversation I had with a few old friends in Evanston in 2003. They were graduate students in mathematics at Northwestern, and at one point one of them expressed some serious frustration at the fact that so many of the science and business students in his introductory calculus courses simply wanted to “learn” a disparate set of techniques, rather than........ Read more »

Robert Boyd, Peter J. Richerson, & Joseph Henrich. (2011) The cultural niche: Why social learning is essential for human adaptation. PNAS. info:/10.1073/pnas.1100290108

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