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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Giant stone-age axes found in African lake basin

Giant stone-age axes found in African lake basin
September 10th, 2009 Enlarge
Four giant stone hand axes were recovered from the the dry basin of Lake Makgadikgadi in the Kalahari Desert.

( -- A giant African lake basin is providing information about possible migration routes and hunting practices of early humans in the Middle and Late Stone Age periods, between 150,000 and 10,000 years ago.
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Neanderthal Hearths at El Salt Reveal Plant And Fish Remains

Neanderthal Hearths at El Salt Reveal Plant And Fish Remains
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Julien at A Very Remote Period Indeed has posted a brief note on what looks to be a very important discovery from southern Spain, where archaeologists investigating Neanderthal occupation levels at a Mousterian site called El Salt, dating back at least 60,000 years, have discovered and analysed fat residues and other remains that indicate Neanderthals were not only cooking animals such as wild goat and deer, but quite possibly fish and vegetable matter too. Should the results be confirmed, the site of El Salt, Alcoy in Alicante would represent far earlier evidence for the dietary complexity of Neanderthals than those who occupied Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar, and who were thought to have been eating mussels and dolphin around 25,000 years ago, after cooked remains were discovered in situ.............Read More

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Free Music from J. Lyon Layden's Band The Looters!!!!!!!!


The Looters Have New Music Up

Just a shameless promotion for my internastional versatility band!!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Skull rewrites History in georgia...again!

Another newspaper story of the more primitive hominins' bones found in
Georgia. Theory says this group evolved further in central Eurasia and
then returned to Africa to become Homo erectus.

September 9, 2009
A skull that rewrites the history of man
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
It has long been agreed that Africa was the sole cradle of human
evolution. Then these bones were found in Georgia...

The conventional view of human evolution and how early man colonised
the world has been thrown into doubt by a series of stunning
palaeontological discoveries suggesting that Africa was not the sole
cradle of humankind. Scientists have found a handful of ancient human
skulls at an archaeological site two hours from the Georgian capital,
Tbilisi, that suggest a Eurasian chapter in the long evolutionary
story of man.

The skulls, jawbones and fragments of limb bones suggest that our
ancient human ancestors migrated out of Africa far earlier than
previously thought and spent a long evolutionary interlude in Eurasia
- before moving back into Africa to complete the story of man.

Experts believe fossilised bones unearthed at the medieval village of
Dmanisi in the foothills of the Caucuses, and dated to about 1.8
million years ago, are the oldest indisputable remains of humans
discovered outside of Africa.

But what has really excited the researchers is the discovery that
these early humans (or "hominins") are far more primitive-looking than
the Homo erectus humans that were, until now, believed to be the first
people to migrate out of Africa about 1 million years ago.

The Dmanisi people had brains that were about 40 per cent smaller than
those of Homo erectus and they were much shorter in stature than
classical H. erectus skeletons, according to Professor David
Lordkipanidze, general director of the Georgia National Museum.
"Before our findings, the prevailing view was that humans came out of
Africa almost 1 million years ago, that they already had sophisticated
stone tools, and that their body anatomy was quite advanced in terms
of brain capacity and limb proportions. But what we are finding is
quite different," Professor Lordkipanidze said.

"The Dmanisi hominins are the earliest representatives of our own
genus - Homo - outside Africa, and they represent the most primitive
population of the species Homo erectus to date. They might be
ancestral to all later Homo erectus populations, which would suggest a
Eurasian origin of Homo erectus."

Speaking at the British Science Festival in Guildford, where he gave
the British Council lecture, Professor Lordkipanidze raised the
prospect that Homo erectus may have evolved in Eurasia from the more
primitive-looking Dmanisi population and then migrated back to Africa
to eventually give rise to our own species, Homo sapiens - modern man.

"The question is whether Homo erectus originated in Africa or Eurasia,
and if in Eurasia, did we have vice-versa migration? This idea looked
very stupid a few years ago, but today it seems not so stupid," he
told the festival.

The scientists have discovered a total of five skulls and a solitary
jawbone. It is clear that they had relatively small brains, almost a
third of the size of modern humans. "They are quite small. Their lower
limbs are very human and their upper limbs are still quite archaic and
they had very primitive stone tools," Professor Lordkipanidze said.
"Their brain capacity is about 600 cubic centimetres. The prevailing
view before this discovery was that the humans who first left Africa
had a brain size of about 1,000 cubic centimetres."

The only human fossil to predate the Dmanisi specimens are of an
archaic species Homo habilis, or "handy man", found only in Africa,
which used simple stone tools and lived between about 2.5 million and
1.6 million years ago.

"I'd have to say, if we'd found the Dmanisi fossils 40 years ago, they
would have been classified as Homo habilis because of the small brain
size. Their brow ridges are not as thick as classical Homo erectus,
but their teeth are more H. erectus like," Professor Lordkipanidze
said. "All these finds show that the ancestors of these people were
much more primitive than we thought. I don't think that we were so
lucky as to have found the first travellers out of Africa. Georgia is
the cradle of the first Europeans, I would say," he told the meeting.

"What we learnt from the Dmanisi fossils is that they are quite small
- between 1.44 metres to 1.5 metres tall. What is interesting is that
their lower limbs, their tibia bones, are very human-like so it seems
they were very good runners," he said.

He added: "In regards to the question of which came first, enlarged
brain size or bipedalism, maybe indirectly this information calls us
to think that body anatomy was more important than brain size. While
the Dmanisi people were almost modern in their body proportions, and
were highly efficient walkers and runners, their arms moved in a
different way, and their brains were tiny compared to ours.

"Nevertheless, they were sophisticated tool makers with high social
and cognitive skills," he told the science festival, which is run by
the British Science Association.

One of the five skulls is of a person who lost all his or her teeth
during their lifetime but had still survived for many years despite
being completely toothless. This suggests some kind of social
organisation based on mutual care, Professor Lordkipanidze said.

The Ancient Origin of Fairy Tales

Fairy tales have ancient origin
Popular fairy tales and folk stories are more ancient than was previously thought, according research by biologists.

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
Published: 9:00PM BST 05 Sep 2009

Dr Jamie Tehrani, a cultural anthropologist at Durham University, studied 35 versions of Little Red Riding Hood from around the world Photo: GETTY They have been told as bedtime stories by generations of parents, but fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood may be even older than was previously thought.

A study by anthropologists has explored the origins of folk tales and traced the relationship between varients of the stories recounted by cultures around the world.

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Dr Jamie Tehrani, a cultural anthropologist at Durham University, studied 35 versions of Little Red Riding Hood from around the world.

Whilst the European version tells the story of a little girl who is tricked by a wolf masquerading as her grandmother, in the Chinese version a tiger replaces the wolf.

In Iran, where it would be considered odd for a young girl to roam alone, the story features a little boy.

Contrary to the view that the tale originated in France shortly before Charles Perrault produced the first written version in the 17th century, Dr Tehrani found that the varients shared a common ancestor dating back more than 2,600 years.

He said: “Over time these folk tales have been subtly changed and have evolved just like an biological organism. Because many of them were not written down until much later, they have been misremembered or reinvented through hundreds of generations.

“By looking at how these folk tales have spread and changed it tells us something about human psychology and what sort of things we find memorable.

“The oldest tale we found was an Aesopic fable that dated from about the sixth century BC, so the last common ancestor of all these tales certainly predated this. We are looking at a very ancient tale that evolved over time.”

Dr Tehrani, who will present his work on Tuesday at the British Science Festival in Guildford, Surrey, identified 70 variables in plot and characters between different versions of Little Red Riding Hood.

He found that the stories could be grouped into distinct families according to how they evolved over time.

The original ancestor is thought to be similar to another tale, The Wolf and the Kids, in which a wolf pretends to be a nanny goat to gain entry to a house full of young goats.

Stories in Africa are closely related to this original tale, whilst stories from Japan, Korea, China and Burma form a sister group. Tales told in Iran and Nigeria were the closest relations of the modern European version.

Perrault’s French version was retold by the Brothers Grimm in the 19th century. Dr Tehrani said: “We don’t know very much about the processes of transmission of these stories from culture to culture, but it is possible that they may being passed along trade routes or with the movement of people.”

Professor Jack Zipes, a retired professor of German at the University of Minnesota who is an expert on fairy tales and their origins, described the work as “exciting”. He believes folk tales may have helped people to pass on tips for survival to new generations.

He said: “Little Red Riding Hood is about violation or rape, and I suspect that humans were just as violent in 600BC as they are today, so they will have exchanged tales about all types of violent acts.

“I have tried to show that tales relevant to our adaptation to the environment and survival are stored in our brains and we consistently use them for all kinds of reference points.”

Ancient Twining Unravelled

Stone Age twining unraveled
Stone Age twining unraveled
purposes in western Asia by 32,000 years ago
By Bruce Bower

An excavation in western Asia has yielded wild flax fibers,
such as this twisted specimen, suggesting that people made twine for
sewing clothes and other purposes around 32,000 years ago.Science/AAAS

In the Stone Age, advances in fiber technology globalized people not
communication. As early as 32,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers figured
out how to transform wild flax fibers into cords suitable for sewing
clothes, weaving baskets and attaching stone tools to handles,
researchers report in the Sept. 11 Science.

Their excavations at a western Asian cave have yielded the oldest
known fragments of twine.

Following the ancient invention of cord-making techniques, human
groups were able to create warm, durable clothes and other gear needed
for trekking into Siberia and across a now-submerged land bridge to
North America, proposes Harvard University archaeologist Ofer Bar-
Yosef, a coauthor of the new study.

“The invention of cordage was an extremely important technological
event,” Bar-Yosef says.

In 2007 and 2008, a team including Bar-Yosef and led by paleobotanist
Eliso Kvavadze of the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi collected
soil samples from Georgia’s Dzudzuana Cave containing more than 1,000
wild flax fibers. Radiocarbon measurements of animal bones and charred
wood in the cave’s sediment pointed to periods of human activity from
32,000 to 26,000 years ago, 23,000 to 19,000 years ago and 13,000 to
11,000 years ago. These periods fell within a Stone Age phase called
the Upper Paleolithic, during which cave painting and other cultural
activities flourished.
Twine siteScientists unearthed twisted and knotted flax fibers
suggestive of Stone Age twine at Dzudzuana Cave in Georgia.Science/

Flax fibers display a signature microscopic shape and structure, the
researchers say. Some of the new finds included pairs of flax fibers
that had been twisted together, suggesting intentional modification of
the fibers. One such find contained numerous knots. Other ancient
fibers had been dyed different colors including black, gray, turquoise
and, in one case, pink.

Natural pigments available near the Georgian cave, including roots and
other plant parts, could have provided dye ingredients, Kvavadze and
his colleagues suggest.

Prehistoric cave residents probably used fiber cords in activities
that involved fur, skin and cloth, such as garment making, the
scientists say. Fiber-containing soil samples also yielded remains of
hair from an extinct wild ox, skin beetles, moths and a fungus known
to destroy clothes and other textiles.

Upper Paleolithic cord remnants are “extraordinarily rare,” remarks
archaeologist Olga Soffer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-
Champaign. Researchers have found 15,000- to 17,000-year-old rope
fragments in France’s Lascaux cave and 19,000-year-old fragments of
fibrous twine at Israel’s Ohalo II site.

The types of plant fibers used at Lascaux and Ohalo II remain unknown.

It’s not surprising that Upper Paleolithic people used wild flax
fibers to make string, rope, nets and cloth, comments archaeologist
James Adovasio of Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa. By around 5,000
years ago, cultivated flax fueled a revolution in textile production
in the Middle East and western Asia.

Other signs of Upper Paleolithic textiles come not from actual fibers
but from impressions of cords, baskets, nets and various fabrics on
prehistoric pottery. Soffer and Adovasio previously identified such
evidence at a 26,000-year-old site in the Czech Republic.
Representations of woven material also appear on female figurines from
around that time.

Harvard archaeologist Irene Good agrees that people made textiles out
of plant fibers around 30,000 years ago but takes a cautious view of
the new fragmentary finds. It’s possible individual flax fibers blew
into the ancient cave, got buried and then became twisted during
microscopic analyses, Good says.

Some fibers might have absorbed mineral colors from the soil rather
than from intentional dyeing, in her view. “If this is evidence for
dyeing fibers, then it is by far the earliest,” Good notes. Dyeing of
wool began roughly 4,000 years ago.

Further work at the Georgian cave needs to probe for intact threads
containing many flax fibers and pottery bearing textile impressions,
Good says.


Harvard University
Archaeologists discover oldest-known fiber materials used by early
Flax fibers could have been used for warmth and mobility; for rope,
baskets, or shoes

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A team of archaeologists and paleobiologists has
discovered flax fibers that are more than 34,000 years old, making
them the oldest fibers known to have been used by humans. The fibers,
discovered during systematic excavations in a cave in the Republic of
Georgia, are described in this week's issue of Science.

The flax, which would have been collected from the wild and not
farmed, could have been used to make linen and thread, the researchers
say. The cloth and thread would then have been used to fashion
garments for warmth, sew leather pieces, make cloths, or tie together
packs that might have aided the mobility of our ancient ancestors from
one camp to another.

The excavation was jointly led by Ofer Bar-Yosef, George Grant
MacCurdy and Janet G. B. MacCurdy Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology
in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, with Tengiz
Meshveliani from the Georgian State Museum and Anna Belfer-Cohen from
the Hebrew University. The microscopic research of the soil samples in
which numerous flax fibers were discovered was done by Eliso Kvavadze
of the Institute of Paleobiology, part of the National Museum of

"This was a critical invention for early humans. They might have used
this fiber to create parts of clothing, ropes, or baskets—for items
that were mainly used for domestic activities," says Bar-Yosef. "We
know that this is wild flax that grew in the vicinity of the cave and
was exploited intensively or extensively by modern humans."

The items created with these fibers increased early humans chances of
survival and mobility in the harsh conditions of this hilly region.
The flax fibers could have been used to sew hides together for
clothing and shoes, to create the warmth necessary to endure cold
weather. They might have also been used to make packs for carrying
essentials, which would have increased and eased mobility, offering a
great advantage to a hunter-gatherer society.

Some of the fibers were twisted, indicating they were used to make
ropes or strings. Others had been dyed. Early humans used the plants
in the area to color the fabric or threads made from the flax.

Today, these fibers are not visible to the eye, because the garments
and items sewed together with the flax have long ago disintegrated.
Bar-Yosef, Kvavadze and colleagues discovered the fibers by examining
samples of clay retrieved from different layers of the cave under a

The discovery of such ancient fibers was a surprise to the scientists.
Previously, the oldest known were imprints of fibers in small clay
objects found in Dolni Vestonice, a famous site in the Czech Republic
some 28,000 years old.

The scientists' original goal was to analyze tree pollen samples found
inside the cave, part of a study of environmental and temperature
fluctuations over the course of thousands of years that would have
affected the lives of these early humans. However, while looking for
this pollen, Kvavadze, who led the analysis of the pollen, also
discovered non-pollen polymorphs – these flax fibers.

Bar-Yosef and his team used radiocarbon dating to date the layers of
the cave as they dug the site, revealing the age of the clay samples
in which the fibers were found. Flax fibers were also found in the
layers that dated to about 21,000 and 13,000 years ago.

Bar-Yosef's team began the excavations of this cave in 1996, and has
returned to the site each year to complete this work.

"We were looking to find when the cave was occupied, what was the
nature of the occupation by those early hunter-gatherers, where did
they go hunting and gathering food, what kind of stone tools they
used, what types of bone and antler tools they made and how they used
them, whether they made beads and pendants for body decoration, and so
on," says Bar-Yosef. "This was a wonderful surprise, to discover these
ancient flax fibers at the end of this excavation project."


Science 11 September 2009:
Vol. 325. no. 5946, p. 1329
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_1329a

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News of the Week
Clothes Make the (Hu) Man
Michael Balter

The first clothes, worn at least 70,000 years ago and perhaps much
earlier, were probably made of animal skins and helped protect early
humans from the ice ages. Then at some point people learned to weave
plant fibers into textiles. But when? The answer is not certain,
because cloth is rarely preserved at archaeological sites. Now
discoveries at a cave in the Republic of Georgia, reported on page
1359 of this week's issue of Science, suggest that this skill was
acquired more than 30,000 years ago.