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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Anthropology news updates
    Posted: 13-Mar-2012 at 17:40
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120306131640.htm
"..."...ScienceDaily (Mar. 6, 2012) — A professor of classics is translating and analyzing ancient inscriptions from columns, stones, tombs, floors, and mosaics of ancient Israel to uncover the life of the common men -- and women -- of antiquity....
...Graffiti, which comprise a significant amount of the collected inscriptions, are a common phenomenon throughout the ancient world. Famously, the walls of the city of Pompeii were covered with graffiti, including advertisements, poetry, and lewd sketches. In ancient Israel, people also left behind small traces of their lives -- although discussion of belief systems, personal appeals to God, and hopes for the future are more prevalent than the sexual innuendo that adorns the walls of Pompeii.

"These are the only remains of real people. Thousands whose voices have disappeared into the oblivion of history," notes Prof. Price. These writings are, and have always been, a way for people to perpetuate their memory and mark their existence.

Of course, our world has its graffiti too. It's not hard to find, from subway doors and bathroom stalls to protected archaeological sites. Although it may be considered bothersome and disrespectful now, "in two thousand years, it'll be interesting to scholars," Prof. Price says with a smile..." ..."

An ancient Greek graffito from Beth She'arim. (Credit: Image courtesy of Am


Edited by Don Quixote - 13-Mar-2012 at 17:41
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  Quote Arab Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2012 at 13:46
http://www.theage.com.au/national/scientists-stumped-by-prehistoric-human-whose-face-doesnt-fit-20120314-1v3m0.html

Scientists stumped by prehistoric human whose face doesn't fit

THEY have been dubbed the Red Deer Cave people and they are a big mystery.

Fossils of this previously unknown group of prehistoric humans, who lived as recently as 11,500 years ago, have been discovered in south-west China by a team including Melbourne researchers.

Their highly unusual mix of archaic and modern features raises the possibility they represent a new species of human.

Team co-leader Darren Curnoe, of the University of NSW, said the physical appearance of these extinct people was unique.

''They look very different to all modern humans, whether alive today or in Africa 150,000 years ago.''

He said one possibility was that they were modern humans who left Africa very early on and reached China, but then did not contribute genetically to people alive in East Asia today.

Alternatively, they could be a previously unknown species of human, an explanation he cautiously favours. ''While finely balanced, I think the evidence is slightly weighted towards the Red Deer Cave people representing a new evolutionary line,'' Professor Curnoe said.

The find follows the discoveries of two new human species in Asia, dubbed the Hobbit and the Denisovans, in the past eight years.

The research describing the Red Deer Cave people is published today in the journal PLoS One.

The discovery team, co-led by Professor Curnoe and Professor Ji Xueping, of Yunnan University in Kunming, includes researchers from five Australian and six Chinese institutions.

The fossils, dated between 14,500 and 11,500 years old, were found in Maludong, or Red Deer Cave, in Yunnan Province and in Longlin Cave in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The prehistoric people had short, flat faces with archaic features such as big teeth and thick skulls, but brains with modern-looking frontal lobes.

They cooked and ate lots of venison, including a giant red deer now extinct.

They may have survived in isolation from the modern-looking people who lived around them and were beginning to develop a farming culture.

Professor Colin Groves, of the Australian National University, who was not involved in the find, said: ''I think it is potentially very important, telling us something about species close to us but not quite 'us'.''

The Red Deer Cave population are the youngest people to have been found in the world who do not look like modern humans.

In 2004 it was announced that the remains of a tiny species, Homo floresiensis, who lived on the Indonesian island of Flores until about 17,000 years ago, had been unearthed.

Then, in 2010, a mysterious group of humans who lived about 30,000 to 50,000 years ago were identified from DNA extracted from a little finger found in Denisova Cave in Siberia.

"Prayer is when you talk to God. Insanity is when you talk to God and he answers back."
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2012 at 13:54
That's a very interesting info, Arab, thank you for posting itSmile. I've been digging on the Denisovans and other possible human sub-species and this comes just on time.
Here a picture from the article you posted, I'll take the liberty to post it here, /I hope you don't mind/ just for illustration /I love pictures/
The highly unusual mix of archaic and modern features raises the possibility they represent a new species of human.

The highly unusual mix of archaic and modern features raises the possibility they represent a new species of human. Photo: Peter Schouten




Edited by Don Quixote - 14-Mar-2012 at 14:13
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2012 at 14:01
This is kinda old, and may have been posted somewhere else on the threads /even though I haven't encounter it/, but it's relevant to the Denisovans:
"...ScienceDaily (Feb. 7, 2012) — The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Leipzig, Germany, has completed the genome sequence of a Denisovan, a representative of an Asian group of extinct humans related to Neandertals....
..."The genome is of very high quality," says Matthias Meyer, who developed the techniques that made this technical feat possible. "We cover all non-repetitive DNA sequences in the Denisovan genome so many times that it has fewer errors than most genomes from present-day humans that have been determined to date."

The genome represents the first high-coverage, complete genome sequence of an archaic human group -- a leap in the study of extinct forms of humans. "We hope that biologists will be able to use this genome to discover genetic changes that were important for the development of modern human culture and technology, and enabled modern humans to leave Africa and rapidly spread around the world, starting around 100,000 years ago" says Pääbo. The genome is also expected to reveal new aspects of the history of Denisovans and Neandertals...."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120207133602.htm

I'd love to find if there is some connection between the Denisovans and the Red Deer Cave people.

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Mar-2012 at 17:59
Interesting research on the effect of the climatic changes ovef the development of human cultures - the Agricultural Revolution in this case:
"...ScienceDaily (Mar. 16, 2012) — A fundamental shift in the Indian monsoon has occurred over the last few millennia, from a steady humid monsoon that favored lush vegetation to extended periods of drought, reports a new study led by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The study has implications for our understanding of the monsoon’s response to climate change....
The Indian peninsula sustains over a billion people, yet it lies at the same latitude as the Sahara Desert. Without a monsoon, most of India would be dry and uninhabitable. The ability to predict the timing and amount of the next year’s monsoon is vital, yet even our knowledge of the monsoon’s past variability remains incomplete....

...“What the new paleo-climatic information makes clear is that the shift towards more arid conditions around 4,000 years ago corresponds to the time when agricultural populations expanded and settled village life began,” says Fuller of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. “Arid-adapted food production is an old cultural tradition in the region, with cultivation of drought-tolerant millets and soil-restoring bean species. There may be lessons to learn here, as these drought-tolerant agricultural traditions have eroded over the past century, with shift towards more water and chemical intensive forms of modern agriculture.”

Together, the geological record and the archaeological evidence tell a story of the possible fate of India’s earliest civilizations. Cultural changes occurred across the Indian subcontinent as the climate became more arid after ~4,000 years. In the already dry Indus basin, the urban Harappan civilization failed to adapt to even harsher conditions and slowly collapsed. But aridity favored an increase in sophistication in the central and south India where tropical forest decreased in extent and people began to settle and do more agriculture. Human resourcefulness proved again crucial in the rapid proliferation of rain-collecting water tanks across the Indian peninsula, just as the long series of droughts settled in over the last 1,700 years...."http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120316145802.htm


Map of the Indian peninsula, showing where the monsoon winds blow (white arrows) and how the salinity (white lines) is lower in Bay of Bengal due to monsoon rain over the Bay and rivers draining into the it. (The black arrow represents non-monsoon wind.) The study's sediment core (red dot) was extracted from a “sweet spot” in the Bay of Bengal where the Godavari River drains the central Indian peninsula and over which monsoon winds carry the most precipitation. (Credit: Courtesy of C. Ponton and L. Giosan)


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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 02:13
More on the connection between climate changes are human evolution:
"...ScienceDaily (Mar. 15, 2012) — According to a paper published in Science, models of how animal and plant distributions are affected by climate change may also explain aspects of human evolution....

The approach takes existing knowledge of the geographical spread of other species through the warming and cooling of the ice ages to provide a model that can be applied to human origins.

"No one has applied this knowledge to humans before," said Dr John Stewart, lead author on the paper and researcher at Bournemouth University.

"We have tried to explain much of what we know about humans, including the evolution and extinction of Neanderthals and the Denisovans (a newly discovered group from Siberia), as well as how they interbred with the earliest modern populations who had just left Africa. All these phenomena have been put into the context of how animals and plants react to climate change. We're thinking about humans from the perspective of what we know about other species."...

...Climate is believed to be the driving force behind most of these evolutionary processes, including geographical range change. It dictates which species are where at what time, driving their geographical spread or contraction.Dr Stewart continued: "Ultimately, this model explains why Homo sapiens as a species are here and the archaic humans are not."

The research also leads to interesting conclusions as to how and why Neanderthals, and indeed the Denisovans, evolved in the first place."One of the models we've formulated is that the adoption of a new refugium (an area of refuge from the harsh climatic conditions of the Ice Age) by a subgroup of a species may lead to important evolutionary changes, ultimately leading to the origins of a new species. In fact this could apply to all continental species, whether animals or plants" said Dr Stewart..."http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120315152514.htm

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 11:42
The Neolithic Revolution may have started some 8 milllenia earlier than thought:
"...Excavation of 19,000-year-old hunter-gatherer remains, including a vast camp site, is fuelling a reinterpretation of the greatest fundamental shift in human civilisation – the origins of agriculture...."

"...The moment when the hunter-gatherers laid down their spears and began farming around 11,000 years ago is often interpreted as one of the most rapid and significant transitions in human history – the ‘Neolithic Revolution’.

By producing and storing food, Homo sapiens both mastered the natural world and took the first significant steps towards thousands of years of runaway technological development. The advent of specialist craftsmen, an increase in fertility and the construction of permanent architecture are just some of the profound changes that followed.

Of course, the transition to agriculture was far from rapid. The period around 14,500 years ago has been regarded as the point at which the first indications appear of cultural change associated with agriculture: the exploitation of wild grains and the construction of stone buildings. Farming is believed to have begun in what is known as the Fertile Crescent in the Levant region, which stretches from northern Egypt through Israel and Jordan to the shores of the Persian Gulf, and then occurred independently in other regions of the world at different times from 11,000 years ago.

Recent evidence, however, has suggested that the first stirrings of the revolution began even earlier, perhaps as far back as 19,000 years ago. Stimulating this reinterpretation of human prehistory are discoveries by the Epipalaeolithic Foragers in Azraq Project (EFAP), a group of archaeologists and bioarchaeologists working in the Jordanian desert comprising University of Cambridge’s Dr. Jay Stock, Dr. Lisa Maher (University of California, Berkeley) and Dr. Tobias Richter (University of Copenhagen).

Over the past four years, their research has uncovered dramatic evidence of changes in the behaviour of hunter-gatherers that casts new light on agriculture’s origins, as Dr. Stock described: “Our work suggests that these hunter-gatherer communities were starting to congregate in large numbers in specific places, build architecture and show more-complex ritual and symbolic burial practices – signs of a greater attachment to a location and a changing pattern of social complexity that imply they were on the trajectory toward agriculture.”..."http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-03-foraging-farming-year-revolution.html


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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 17:33
A nice example of ecological thinking and careful resource-usage in ancient native cultures - Hawaian, in this case.

Ancient Hawaiians Caught More By Fishing Less


"...Centuries ago, Hawaiians caught three times more fish annually than scientists generally consider to be sustainable in modern times — and maintained this level of harvest for more than 400 years, researchers report in a new study in the journal Fish and Fisheries.

The findings could be instructive for agencies that enforce fishing limits in overfished waters around the globe.

Native Hawaiians caught about 50 percent more fish than modern fleets catch today in both Hawaii and the Florida Keys, the two largest reef ecosystems in the United States, said a co-author of the study, Loren McClenachan, a fisheries researcher at Colby College in Waterville, Me.

Hawaiians harvested about 15 metric tons of fish per square kilometer of reef annually from the years 1400 to 1800, the study found. That’s five times the median harvest in island nations worldwide today.

Dr. McClenachan and her co-author, John Kittinger, a researcher at the Center for Ocean Solutions in Monterey, Calif., drew on a variety of historical records and a method called catch reconstruction to estimate historical harvests in the Hawaiian Islands and the Florida Keys.

The Hawaiians used many techniques similar to those employed today, like temporary or permanent bans from fishing in certain areas, restrictions on certain species and gear, and catch limits. But they enforced the rules strictly; breaking them could mean corporal punishment or even death...."http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/ancient-hawaiians-caught-more-by-fishing-less/
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 17:58
Interesting perspective on gender roles and the impact the social values on the them in different cultures:

"...For economic and social reasons, many Afghan parents want to have a son. This preference has led to some of them practising the long-standing tradition of Bacha Posh - disguising girls as boys.

When Azita Rafhat, a former member of the Afghan parliament, gets her daughters ready for school, she dresses one of the girls differently.Three of her daughters are clothed in white garments and their heads covered with white scarves, but a fourth girl, Mehrnoush, is dressed in a suit and tie. When they get outside, Mehrnoush is no longer a girl but a boy named Mehran.

Azita Rafhat didn't have a son, and to fill the gap and avoid people's taunts for not having a son, she opted for this radical decision. It was very simple, thanks to a haircut and some boyish clothes.There is even a name for this tradition in Afghanistan - Bacha Posh, or disguising girls as boys."When you have a good position in Afghanistan and are well off, people look at you differently. They say your life becomes complete only if you have a son," she says....

Mehran with her father This child has been temporarily transformed from Mehrnoush the girl to Mehran the boy

....Many girls disguised as boys can be found in Afghan markets. Some families disguise their daughters as boys so that they can easily work on the streets to feed their families.

Elaha

If my parents force me to get married, I will compensate for the sorrows of Afghan women and beat my husband so badly ”Elaha Girl who lived as a boy

Some of these girls who introduce themselves as boys sell things like water and chewing gum. They appear to be aged anywhere between about five and 12. None of them would talk to me about their lives as boys.Girls brought up as boys do not stay like this all their lives. When they turn 17 or 18 they live life as a girl once again - but the change is not so simple....

Elaha lives in Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan. She lived as a boy for 20 years because her family didn't have a son and reverted only two years ago when she had to go to university.However, she does not feel fully female: she says her habits are not girlish and she does not want to get married."When I was a kid my parents disguised me as a boy because I didn't have a brother. Until very recently, as a boy, I would go out, play with other boys and have more freedom."She has returned reluctantly to her gender and says she has done it only because of the social traditions....

...The tradition has existed in Afghanistan for centuries. According to Daud Rawish, a sociologist in Kabul, it may have started when Afghans had to fight their invaders and for this women needed to be disguised as men.But Qazi Sayed Mohammad Sami, head of the Balkh Human Rights Commission, calls it a breach of human rights.

"We cannot change someone's gender for a while. You cannot change a girl to a boy for a short period of time. It's against humanity," he says.The tradition has had a damaging effect on some girls who feel they have missed out on essential childhood memories as well as losing their identity.For others it has been good experiencing freedoms they would never have had if they had lived as girls.

But for many the key question is: will there be a day when Afghan girls get as much freedom and respect as boys?..."http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15262680

I can understand that - who would like to be a woman in sexist society with rigid gender roles? Even in proclaimed gender-equal society it's hard enough to be a woman /women are far more frequently abused, psychologically, physically and sexually than men are - only in the US 600 women are raped or sexually assaulted every day /2006 data/, one can imagine what this number is worldwide/, let alone in societies that proclaim rigid traditional gender roles.




Edited by Don Quixote - 28-Mar-2012 at 18:10
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 12:35
I have the sense that you wanted to post this one in the "Archeology News" thread, CV.
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 12:39
Modern Bedouin customs and their connection to ancient ones:

Bedouin Animal Sacrifice Rituals Provide Clues to Archaeological Remains


"...Miami, FL -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/28/2012 -- Harvard University educated archaeologist and president of the Paleontological Research Corporation, Dr. Joel Klenck, conducted an ethnoarchaeological study of modern Bedouin sacrificial practices in the Levant to provide insight on the deposition of remains at ancient cult sites. Ethnoarchaeology comprises the analysis of modern behaviors and the remains left over from these activities. These studies are linked with a concept in archaeology called middle range theory where observations of natural processes or human behaviors are used to explain the deposition of archaeological finds. Deriving his theories from the sociologist Robert Merton, the American archaeologist Lewis Binford strongly encouraged middle range theory and completed ethnographic studies of Australian aborigines, Nunamiut Eskimo and other groups. Binford then compared his data to remains from archaeological sites.

Klenck remarks, “During my excavations and research in the Levant, I observed many foot bones of sheep, goats and cattle near ancient sanctuaries particularly at the Middle Bronze IIB/C period (1800-1550 B.C.) cult site at Tel Haror. At the same time, I learned that modern Bedouin communities sacrificed sheep, goats, cattle and an occasional camel to a “weli” or a revered person at their sepulchers.” Sponsored by a grant from the Joe Alon Museum, Klenck conducted an ethnoarchaeological study of Bedouin sacrificial rituals taking photographs and recordings of his observations. He then analyzed the animal bone remains strewn around the venerated areas after the rituals. An analysis was completed in 2012 of the butchery and preservation processes affecting these bones for a forthcoming manuscript. Klenck comments, “It was quickly apparent that the bones with meat on them such as upper limb bones, ribs and vertebrae were subjected to more intensive butchery processes, were boiled and eaten by the families and then targeted by dogs and other scavengers after the Bedouin left the cult areas. At two of the sacrificial areas, the Bedouin burned the bones. Without any hides covering them, the meat bones disintegrated in the fires.”
The archaeologist notes that the foot bones were treated in a different manner. Klenck states, “Bedouin removed the hooves from the carcass at the beginning stages of butchery. The foot bones remained encased in animal skins and were discarded around the cult sites and not eaten. The sparse meat and marrow in these bones made them less attractive to scavengers and the skin surrounding these bones protected foot bones when Bedouin burned animal bones at the conclusion of the sacrificial meals.” The researcher then compared activities around the venerated tombs to the types of animal bones brought into Bedouin homes. The latter brought mostly meat bones into their homes while foot bones were removed in butcher shops at considerable distances from their domestic dwellings. Conversely, at the cult sites the entire butchery process was conducted near the venerated sepulcher. Klenck concludes, “The study of Bedouin sacrificial rituals provides archaeologists with valuable insight as to behaviors that might explain the enhanced preservation of foot bones at ancient cult sites in the Near East.”..."
http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/bedouin-animal-sacrifice-rituals-provide-clues-to-archaeological-remains-133733.htm
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Apr-2012 at 13:01
"...A research team of archaeologists and paleoecologists have concluded that a group of pre-Columbian farmers living in the savannas surrounding the Amazonian rainforest in French Guiana, South America, practiced an agricultural and land-use technique that can serve as an example of sustainability for the future.

The research, published in the April 9, 2012 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that an indigenous people living in a savanna environment near the Amazon forest farmed without using fire, otherwise called "slash and burn" agriculture. By analysing pollen, charcoal and other plant remains across a period of more than 2,000 years, they determined that the early inhabitants of these savannas practiced 'raised-field' farming, which required the construction of cultivated agricultural mounds using wooden implements. This method resulted in improved drainage, soil aeration and moisture retention. Increased fertility was obtained by removing nutrient-rich muck from the flooded basin of the area and then depositing it on the mounds. The total system limited or eliminated the need to use fire, conserved soil nutrients and organic matter, and preserved critical soil structure. This is in contrast to the wide use of "slash-and-burn" agriculture and the use of fire for deforestation to achieve needed levels of production to sustain growing populations in the past and present, a major reason underlying the disappearance of environmentally critical ecosystems in today's world.   

The study results contradict the long-standing belief that the arrival of Europeans after 1492, and the ensuing collapse of as much as 95 percent of the native populations due to disease and other means brought by European conquerors and settlers, led to decreased forest clearance and agricultural burning by the indigenous population. The prolific use of fire as an agricultural technique in these Amazonian savannas is thus actually a post-1492, as opposed to the generally accepted pre-1492, phenomenon. In fact, the research suggested a sharp increase in fires with the arrival of the first Europeans..."

...This ancient, time-tested, fire-free land use could pave the way for the modern implementation of raised-field agriculture in rural areas of Amazonia," says lead author Dr José Iriarte of the University of Exeter. "Intensive raised-field agriculture can become an alternative to burning down tropical forest for slash and burn agriculture by reclaiming otherwise abandoned and new savanna ecosystems created by deforestation. It has the capability of helping curb carbon emissions and at the same time provide food security for the more vulnerable and poorest rural populations."..." http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/march-2012/article/achaeologists-say-ancient-south-american-farmers-provide-example-of-sustainability


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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2012 at 17:45
Rarely revealed by Western researchers, Arab pastoral nomads practice several types of sacrificial rituals other than the main feast of sacrifice or “Id al ‘Adha” that occurs the tenth day of the Hadj or “Dhul Hijjah” and is practiced by all observing Muslims. Three other rituals include sacrifices to spirits or “ginn”, ritual slaughters to ward off curses and bless newly married couples, and commemorations to deceased family members. Another type of sacrifice practiced by Bedouin in the Levant comprises sacrifices to a “weli” or revered person. Klenck states, “Bedouin sacrifice sheep, goats, cattle and occasionally a camel to a weli to redeem vows, incur healing, give thanks or insure fertility. Individuals performing the sacrifices believe the weli will act as a mediator between them and Allah to facilitate their requests.” Around 1771, Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, a cleric who traveled throughout Saudi Arabia and Iraq, began to influence the ruler of Dara’iya, Muhammad Ibn Sa’ud, whose tribe created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. The religious leader al-Wahhab formed a movement that denounced Bedouin believing in the special powers of a weli, punished individuals performing sacrificial rituals to these revered persons and largely eradicated these practices. Although sacrifices to Bedouin saints are mostly forbidden in Saudi Arabia, these rituals continue to be practiced by Muslim pastoral nomads in the Levant and North Africa. Klenck states, “I was able to observe Bedouin venerating the tombs of Sheikh Abu-Hurreira, Ibrahim, Hussein, Falougie, Nebi Musa, and the adjacent sepulchers of Al-Azzam and Al-Nabari. The sheikhs’ tombs vary in their size, care and decoration. The tombs often feature sticks of wood mostly of palm with white or green cloth tied to each structure. According to the Bedouin, the white cloth represents peace and goodwill and is a beneficial omen for those petitioning Allah through a weli. The Bedouin consider the color green to be very holy as its significance stems from their traditions and because they allege the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad and the Kabbah in Saudi Arabia are covered with green tapestries. At the tombs the Bedouin often light candles and sometimes leave salt, sugar, matches, and coins in the sacred area.” While Bedouin women perform prayers and light candles at the tombs, the men perform animal sacrifices near the sepulchers. At the tombs of Al-Azzam and Al-Nabari, the trees surrounding the sacred areas exhibit slash marks where Bedouin hang animal carcasses during butchery activities. After the sacrifice, the meat is boiled and everyone participates in the subsequent feast, especially the poor. Several Bedouin stated that in past centuries, individuals left valuable possessions at the sheikh’s tombs knowing that no Bedouin would dare steal from the tomb for fear of being cursed. Klenck concludes, “Studies of Bedouin animal sacrifices reveal a diversity of beliefs and are important in understanding cultures and ritual activities in the Levant.”

More Information: http://www.artdaily.com/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=54628[/url]
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Edited by Don Quixote - 14-Apr-2012 at 17:47
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2012 at 19:45

Chimpanzee Ground Nests Offer New Insight Into Our Ancestors' Descent from the Trees


"...ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2012) — The first study into rarely documented ground-nest building by wild chimpanzees offers new clues about the ancient transition of early hominins from sleeping in trees to sleeping on the ground. While most apes build nests in trees, this study, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, focused on a group of wild West African chimpanzees that often shows ground-nesting behaviour....

..."We believe that, like modern apes, the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans also slept in the trees 6 million years ago," said Dr Koops. "However, these nests are not preserved in the fossil or archaeological record, so it is impossible to study directly the ancient transition from sleeping in trees to building shelters on the ground. Recording this rare behaviour in the chimpanzee, our closest relative, may provide vital clues." As the Nimba chimpanzees do not yet tolerate human presence at close range, the team used new molecular genetic techniques to analyse hairs collected from the nests. This allowed the team to establish the sex of chimpanzees displaying the behaviour and to identify individuals in the group..." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120416113058.htm

Edited by Don Quixote - 16-Apr-2012 at 19:45
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-May-2012 at 13:50

Anthropologists Discover New Research Use for Dental Plaque: Examining Diets of Ancient Peoples


"...Scott obtained samples of dental calculus from 58 skeletons buried in the Cathedral of Santa Maria in northern Spain dating from the 11th to 19th centuries to conduct research on the diet of this ancient population. After his first methodology met with mixed results, he decided to send five samples of dental calculus to Poulson at the University's Stable Isotope Lab, in the off chance they might contain enough carbon and nitrogen to allow them to estimate stable isotope ratios.

"It's chemistry and is pretty complex," Scott explained. "But basically, since only protein has nitrogen, the more nitrogen that is present, the more animal products were consumed as part of the diet. Carbon provides information on the types of plants consumed."..."http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120502184838.htm


Centuries ago, dental calculus would build up through the years, layer after layer, like a stalagmite, sometimes reaching impressive proportions. University of Nevada, Reno researchers have discovered that analysis of tiny fragments of this material can be used effectively in paleodietary research – the study of diets of earlier ancient and populations – without the need to destroy bone, as other methods do. 

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-May-2012 at 13:58

Mystery of the Domestication of the Horse Solved: Competing Theories Reconciled

"...ScienceDaily (May 7, 2012) — New research indicates that domestic horses originated in the steppes of modern-day Ukraine, southwest Russia and west Kazakhstan, mixing with local wild stocks as they spread throughout Europe and Asia...
...

For several decades scientists puzzled over the origin of domesticated horses. Based on archaeological evidence, it had long been thought that horse domestication originated in the western part of the Eurasian Steppe (Ukraine, southwest Russia and west Kazakhstan); however, a single origin in a geographically restricted area appeared at odds with the large number of female lineages in the domestic horse gene pool, commonly thought to reflect multiple domestication "events" across a wide geographic area.

In order to solve the perplexing history of the domestic horse, scientists from the University of Cambridge used a genetic database of more than 300 horses sampled from across the Eurasian Steppe to run a number of different modelling scenarios.

Their research shows that the extinct wild ancestor of domestic horses, Equus ferus, expanded out of East Asia approximately 160,000 years ago. They were also able to demonstrate that Equus ferus was domesticated in the western Eurasian Steppe, and that herds were repeatedly restocked with wild horses as they spread across Eurasia...." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507154107.htm

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-May-2012 at 17:51

George Washington University Professor’s Research on Ancient Ballgame Reveals More about Early Mesoamerican Society


"...While early games used a hard rubber ball, the ballgames Dr. Blomster researches bear little resemblance to today’s Major League Baseball. The games and the costumes or uniforms participants wore were tied to themes of life and death, mortals and underworld deities or symbolizing the sun and the moon. In some instances, the ballcourt itself represented a portal to the underworld.

According to Dr. Blomster, “Because the ballgame is associated with the rise of complex societies, understanding its origins also illuminates the evolution of socio-politically complex societies.”

During the Early Horizon period, or roughly between 1400 BCE (Before the Common Era) and 1700 BCE, there was little evidence of ballgame activity in the way of artifacts in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. Dr. Blomster’s findings of a clay figurine garbed in distinctive ballgame costume, similar to both Olmec figurines and monumental sculptures from the Gulf Coast, indicate such engagement did take place in the area.

“Exploring the origins and spread of the ballgame is central to understanding the development of the Mesoamerican civilization,” he said. “We know there were earlier versions of a ballgame prior to the Early Horizon with both a ballcourt and rubber balls found in coastal Chiapas and the Gulf Coast, but the institutionalized version of the ballgame, a hallmark of Mesoamerican civilizations, developed during the Early Horizon. While there has been some limited evidence about the participation of the nearby Valley of Oaxaca in the ballgame, the Mixteca has largely been written off in terms of involvement in the origins of complex society in ancient Mexico. This discovery reemphasizes how the ancient Mixtecs were active participants in larger Mesoamerican phenomenon.”..." http://www.gwu.edu/explore/mediaroom/newsreleases/georgewashingtonuniversityprofessorsresearchonancientballgamerevealsmoreaboutearlymesoame

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2012 at 22:00
"...Study reveals trade patterns for crucial substance played key role in Maya collapse

Shifts in exchange patterns provide a new perspective on the fall of inland Maya centers in Mesoamerica approximately 1,000 years ago. This major historical process, sometimes referred to as the "Maya collapse" has puzzled archaeologists, history buffs, and the news media for decades. The new research was published online today in the journal Antiquity.

"Our research strongly suggests that changing patterns of trade were instrumental in prompting the 'Maya collapse,'" said Gary Feinman, curator of anthropology at The Field Museum, which collaborated with the University of Illinois at Chicago on the study.

The new research casts doubt on the idea that climate change was the sole or principal cause, Feinman said, noting that some Maya centers, which flourished after the collapse, were located in the driest parts of the Maya region. Feinman said that climate change, along with breakdowns in leadership, warfare, and other factors, contributed to the collapse, but the shifting exchange networks may have been a key factor.

For the Maya, who did not have metal tools, obsidian (or volcanic glass) was highly valued because of its sharp edges for use as cutting instruments. Maya lords and other elites derived power from controlling access to obsidian, which could be traded for important goods or sent as gifts to foster important relationships with other Mayan leaders.

The Field Museum researchers found that prior to the fall of the Maya inland centers, obsidian tended to flow along inland riverine networks. But over time, this material began to be transported through coastal trade networks instead, with a corresponding increase in coastal centers' prominence as inland centers declined.The shift in trade might have involved more than obsidian. Field researcher Mark Golitko said, "The implication is that other valuable goods important to these inland centers were also slowly being cut off." Golitko led the Social Network Analysis that graphically depicts the change in trade patterns.

Researchers compiled information on obsidian collected at Maya sites, and used chemical analysis to identify the source(s) that produced obsidian found through archaeological studies at each location. Obsidian from three sources in Guatemala and several sources in central Mexico and Honduras were identified. The researchers generated data for each of four time periods: Classic (approximately 250-800 AD),Terminal classic (approximately 800-1050 AD), Early Postclassic (approximately 1050-1300 AD), and Late Postclassic (approximately 1300-1520AD). Using Social Network Analysis (SNA) software, the researchers developed maps illustrating which sites had the same or similar percentages of each type of obsidian, in each of the four time periods. These percentages were then utilized to infer the likely network structure through which obsidian was transported

A comparison of the resulting SNA maps show that Classic period networks were located in inland, lowland areas along rivers, mostly in what is today the northern part of Guatemala, the Mexican state of Chiapas, the southern Yucatan, and western Belize. However, maps bearing data from later time periods show that inland networks diminished in importance and coastal networks were thriving, in what today is the northern Yucatan and coastal Belize.

The SNA data "is a very visual way to let us infer the general layout of the networks that transported obsidian, and the likely paths it took," Golitko said.Feinman termed the study results significant. "The use of SNA to display and analyze the obsidian data graphically gives us a new perspective on these data, some of which has been present for years."

The study did not explore the question of why the transport networks began to shift. Feinman said there may have been military animosities that made the inland, river routes less safe or easy to use, and added that during this period the seagoing transport may have become more efficient with larger canoes. He noted that scientists simply don't have the definitive answers to some of these questions...." http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/fm-srt052312.php

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2012 at 01:20
http://phys.org/news/2012-05-zooarchaeological-indicating-hominids-sophisticated-techniques.html
"...More than ten thousands of bone fragments were recovered from the Lingjing site, Henan Province during 2005 and 2006. By taking statistical analyses of the skeletal elements of the two predominant species in this assemblage, aurochs (Bos primigenius) and horse (Equus caballus), scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, found that hominids at this site have already practiced sophisticated hunting techniques and subsistence strategies and may be quite familiar with the ecological and anatomical characteristics and nutritional values of the large-sized prey animals and can accordingly take different processing and handling strategies at the hunting site..."

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2012 at 01:47
http://phys.org/news/2012-05-ages-proof-thousand-years-sicilian.html
"...Archaeological excavations have provided the first substantiation that a farmland estate in Sicily boasts a history which reaches back over a thousand years. Numerous finds demonstrate the continuous use of the land complex as a nexus of settlement and economic and religious life between the 5th and 16th century. The findings are the result of two projects of the Austrian Science Fund FWF which comprise the first in-depth archaeological exploration of Sicily's Byzantine period. The projects' findings are now accessible to the public in the Krahuletz Museum in Eggenburg, Austria...."

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