Trench fever seems to be all the rage these days in paleomicrobiology. It seems as though every time Bartonella quintana is added to a panel of pathogens for aDNA screening its found at some level. So far its been found in in a tooth from 4000 before present, in late medieval Venice, 14th century France, [...]... Read more »
Grumbkow, P., Zipp, A., Seidenberg, V., Fehren-Schmitz, L., Kempf, V., Groß, U., & Hummel, S. (2011) Brief communication: Evidence of Bartonella quintana infections in skeletons of a historical mass grave in Kassel, Germany. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21551
Happy Fourth of July, everyone. The Fourth is actually a pretty important date for the study of Chaco, but in a roundabout (and somewhat controversial) way. It all has to do with a very famous pictograph panel below Peñasco Blanco at the west end of the canyon. While the interpretation of this panel is a [...]... Read more »
Down in Selma, Alabama, a large, robust skeleton nicknamed Mortimer sits on a barrel in Grumbles Alley restaurant. His origin is unclear. Local legend has it that Mortimer was dug up a century ago by a farmer, who bartered the skeleton to the town doctor for medical services. The skeleton is notable because of his stature - Mortimer may have been a 7-foot-tall Indian, according to stories told to a former restaurant worker. Or perhaps he was Montgomery pedi........ Read more »
D.W. Steadman. (2003) The pawn shop mummified head: discriminating among forensic, historic, and ancient contexts. Hard Evidence: Case Studies in Forensic Anthropology, 212-226. info:/
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
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:/
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:/
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 »
Drancourt, M., & Raoult, D. (2005) Palaeomicrobiology: current issues and perspectives. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 3(1), 23-35. DOI: 10.1038/nrmicro1063
Furuse Y, Suzuki A, & Oshitani H. (2010) Origin of measles virus: divergence from rinderpest virus between the 11th and 12th centuries. Virology journal, 52. PMID: 20202190
Nelson, M., Dinardo, A., Hochberg, J., & Armelagos, G. (2010) Brief communication: Mass spectroscopic characterization of tetracycline in the skeletal remains of an ancient population from Sudanese Nubia 350-550 CE. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21340
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 »
Wills, W., & Windes, T. (1989) Evidence for Population Aggregation and Dispersal during the Basketmaker III Period in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. American Antiquity, 54(2), 347. DOI: 10.2307/281711
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 »
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 »
Windes, T., & Ford, D. (1996) The Chaco Wood Project: The Chronometric Reappraisal of Pueblo Bonito. American Antiquity, 61(2), 295. DOI: 10.2307/282427
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
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
“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 »
Freeman, L., & Echegaray, J. (1981) El Juyo: A 14,000-Year-Old Sanctuary from Northern Spain. History of Religions, 21(1), 1. DOI: 10.1086/462884
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:/
Silk, J. (2002) The Form and Function of Reconciliation in Primates. Annual Review of Anthropology, 31(1), 21-44. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.31.032902.101743
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:/
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 »
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
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
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 »
Moorehead, W. (1908) Ruins at Aztec and on the Rio La Plata, New Mexico. American Anthropologist, 10(2), 255-263. DOI: 10.1525/aa.1908.10.2.02a00080
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 »
Cameron, C. (2001) Pink Chert, Projectile Points, and the Chacoan Regional System. American Antiquity, 66(1), 79. DOI: 10.2307/2694319
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:/
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