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Friday, January 30, 2009

Malaysia says 1.8 million-year-old axes unearthed

Malaysia says 1.8 million-year-old axes unearthed
By JULIA ZAPPEI – 4 hours ago

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian archeologists have unearthed prehistoric stone axes that they said Friday were the world's oldest at about 1.8 million years old.

Seven axes were found with other tools at an excavation site in Malaysia's northern Perak state in June, and tests by a Tokyo laboratory indicate they were about 1.83 million years old, said Mokhtar Saidin, director of the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Science Malaysia.

The group released their conclusions Thursday, and other archeologists have not yet examined the results.

"It's really the first time we have such evidence (dating back) 1.83 million years," Mokhtar said, adding that the oldest axes previously discovered were 1.6 million years old in Africa.

However, other chopping tools, as well as human remains, have been found in Africa that are much older, with some dating back 4 million years, he said.

Geochronology Japan Inc., a lab in Tokyo, calculated the age of the tools by analyzing the rock that covered them, Mokhtar said. The result has a margin of error of 610,000 years, he said.

Some previous discoveries have suggested there were humans in Southeast Asia up to 1.9 million years ago, but those have been disputed, said Harry Truman Simanjuntak, a researcher at the National Research Center of Archaeology in Jakarta.

Simanjuntak cautioned that others still need to investigate claims about the axes' age.

The oldest previous evidence of human existence in Malaysia was stone tools dating back about 200,000 years, found at the same excavation site in Perak.

The archeologists are trying to find human bone remains in Perak, Mokhtar said, but stressed that it might be unlikely because of decay due to warm, humid climate conditions. The oldest bones found in Perak so far have only been about 10,000 years old.
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Glacier man may have been attacked twice

Ötzi’s Last Days –
Glacier man may have been attacked twice


München, 28.01.2009


Another chapter in a murder case over 5000 years old. New
investigations by an LMU research team working together with a Bolzano
colleague reconstructed the chronology of the injuries that Ötzi, the
glacier man preserved as a frozen mummy, received in his last days. It
turns out, for example, that he did in fact only survive the arrow
wound in his back for a very short time – a few minutes to a number of
hours, but no more – and also definitely received a blow to the back
with a blunt object only shortly before his death. In contrast, the
cut wound on his hand is some days older. “We are now able to make the
first assertions as to the age and chronology of the injuries,”
reports Professor Andreas Nerlich, who led the study. “It is now clear
that Ötzi endured at least two injuring events in his last days, which
may imply two separate attacks. Although the ice mummy has already
been studied at great length, there are still new results to be
gleaned. The crime surrounding Ötzi is as thrilling as ever!"


It is the oldest ice mummy ever found. Ötzi, the man from the
Neolithic Age, is giving science critical information about life more
than 5000 years ago, not least from his equipment. His copper axe, for
example, reveals that metalworking was already much more advanced in
that era than was previously assumed. Yet Ötzi’s body, too, gives us
many details as to his diet, state of health – and not least to his
murder.


“Some time ago, we detected a deep cut wound on Ötzi’s hand that he
must have survived for at least a couple of days,” says Nerlich, head
of the Institute of Pathology at Municipal Hospital Munich-Bogenhausen
and member of the Medical Faculty of LMU. “Another team at about the
same time found an arrow tip in Ötzi’s left armpit. The shaft of the
arrow was missing, but there is an entry wound on the back.” It is
probable, in that case, that the man died of internal bleeding because
the arrow hit a main artery. What was unclear, however, was the age
and exact chronology of the injuries.


Now, Nerlich has reconstructed the missing chronology while working
together with LMU forensic scientist Dr. Oliver Peschel and Dr. Eduard
Egarter-Vigl, head of the Institute for Pathology in Bolzano.
According to the new information, Ötzi did in fact only survive the
arrow wound for a very short period of time, of no more than a few
hours. A few centimeters below the entry wound they detected an
additional small discoloration of the skin, which was probably caused
by a blow from a blunt object. In both cases, the researchers, using
new immunohistochemical detection methods, managed to detect very
briefly survived, yet unequivocally fatal bleeding.


Above the spine are more discolorations that are not associated with
bleeding. They probably occurred after the man’s death, due to his
interment, for example. “Ötzi had only shortly survived the arrow
wound and the blow on the back,” Nerlich summarizes. “At least a
couple of days before his death, however, he sustained a severe cut
wound on his right hand. Over several days, then, Ötzi suffered at
least two injuring events – which could point towards two separate
attacks.” (suwe)


Publication:
“New evidence for Ötzi’s final trauma”,
Andreas G. Nerlich, Oliver Peschel, Eduard Egarter-Vigl
Intensive Care Medicine, online, January 2009


http://www.en.uni-muenchen.de/news/research/oetzi.html
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Turkish expert rebuilds faces for ancient skulls

I would like to see a comparison of the same skull redone by each of
the three methods mentioned, "Russian" the "American" and the
"Manchester," each different from the other.

"The Russians put the anatomical structure on the skeleton and cover
it up. The Americans put the flesh back on the bones based on tissue
density. The English use a combination of both of these methods," he
said.

-Jack Linthicum

Turkish expert rebuilds faces for ancient skulls
ISTANBUL - Sadi Çaðdýr, a forensic medical expert, put a face back on
to a skull from the antique city of Metropolis with the technique of
facial reconstruction, after reassembling the pieces of the broken
skull. 'It is the first facial reconstruction to be undertaken in
Turkey at an excavation site,' he says.


The skull of a man from ancient times has had his face restored after
1,200 years. The Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review was able to
enter the Forensic Medicine Institution in Istanbul's Yenibosna
district by special permission from the Ministry of Justice to witness
a facial reconstruction procedure conducted under the guidance of Sadi
Çaðdýr, a medical forensic expert. One of dozens of skulls from cases
in the laboratory, with its broken tooth and its smiling face
attracted the most attention.


The skull was retrieved during the archaeological excavation of the
antique city of Metropolis, 30 kilometers from the ancient city of
Ephesus of Torbalý, Ýzmir where digging has been ongoing since 1992.


Çaðdýr went to the excavation site last summer at the invitation of
Professor Serdar Aybek, a lecturer at Trakya University's faculty of
archaeology.


Çaðdýr removed a broken skull from the site and painstakingly
reassembled the pieces to recreate the skull. Following this
procedure, Çaðdýr used facial reconstruction techniques to recreate
what the face may have looked like. Çaðdýr said this was the first
facial reconstruction to be undertaken in Turkey at an excavation
site. "The skull of Ada, the Carian Princess, dug up in Bodrum at the
end of the 1980s, had also been reconstructed but the procedure was
handled in Manchester, not in Turkey."


Facial reconstruction within the scope of forensic medicine began in
Turkey in 1993 and assisted with the facial recognition of bodies that
could not be identified. Çaðdýr said the technique proved to be
fruitful.


"Although the results were not 100 percent solid, they were the next
best thing to the original and many identifications could be made in
many cases."


The technique has three different methods according to the information
Çaðdýr provided. The methods are called the "Russian" the "American"
and the "Manchester," each different from the other.


"The Russians put the anatomical structure on the skeleton and cover
it up. The Americans put the flesh back on the bones based on tissue
density. The English use a combination of both of these methods," he
said.


In Turkey, the "Istanbul method," developed by Çaðdýr, is being
practiced. In this method, to acquire the correct data the skull three-
dimensionally scanned. The hardest parts to shape in the
reconstruction are the eyes, nose and lips, according to Çaðdýr.


"The temporal and the cheekbones are the easiest to work with. The
eyelid structure, lip thickness and structure of the nose are unique
to the person in question and therefore, hard to do," Çaðdýr said.


'Details are important to preserve conditions'


He said there were differences between ancient bones and modern bones.
"The ancient bone is white and fragile. There is no rotting in the
tooth but there is abrasion. This abrasion may be the result of the
insufficient digestion of crops they had been eating. New bones,
however, have tissue on them."


Çaðdýr said there were lots of historic cities in Turkey that were the
scene of excavations, yet there was a lack of systematic work on
archaeological bones.


"The details are very important for the preservation conditions of the
bones. Lots of information on civilizations from thousands of years
ago may be acquired through those bones. Many skeletons found in
Anatolian territory have skulls showing signs of having been operated
on. We may come across some very surprising findings."
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Comet impact theory disproved

Comet impact theory disproved


Press release issued 26 January 2009
New data, published today, disproves the recent theory that a large
comet exploded over North America 12,900 years ago, causing a shock
wave that travelled at hundreds of kilometres per hour and triggering
continent-wide wildfires.


Dr Sandy Harrison from the University of Bristol and colleagues tested
the theory by examining charcoal and pollen records to assess how fire
regimes in North America changed between 15 and 10,000 years ago, a
time of large and rapid climate changes.


Their results provide no evidence for continental-scale fires, but
support the fact that the increase in large-scale wildfires in all
regions of the world during the past decade is related to an increase
in global warming.


Dr Harrison said, “Fire is the most ubiquitous form of landscape
disturbance and has important effects on climate through the global
carbon cycle and changing atmospheric chemistry. This has triggered an
interest in knowing how fire has changed in the past, and particularly
how fire regimes respond to periods of major warming.


“The end of the Younger Dryas, about 11,700 years ago, was an interval
when the temperature of Greenland warmed by over 5°C in less than a
few decades. We used 35 records of charcoal accumulation in lake
sediments from sites across North America to see whether fire regimes
across the continent showed any response to such rapid warming.”


The team found clear changes in biomass burning and fire frequency
whenever climate changed abruptly, and most particularly when
temperatures increased at the end of the Younger Dryas cold phase. The
results are published today [26 January] in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Science.


Understanding whether rapid changes in climate have caused wild fires
in the past will help understand whether current changes in global
temperatures will cause more frequent fires at the present time. Such
fires have a major impact on the economy and health of the population,
as well as feeding into the increase in global warming.


Please contact Cherry Lewis for further information.
Further information:


The paper: Wildfire responses to abrupt climate change in North
America, by J. R. Marlon, P. J. Bartlein, M. K. Walsh, S. P. Harrison,
et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science early edition,
doi_10.1073_pnas.0808212106.


http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2009/6123.html


Comments:

Interestingly Francis Prior was presenting a BBC Radio 4 programme yesterday
on the rise of sea level around the British Isles since the ending of the
last Ice Age and it was pointed out that the temperature went from -10 to
+10 in the space of 50 years. This was around the time of the Younger Dryas.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

Why Did Humans Migrate to the Americas?

Why Did Humans Migrate to the Americas?
meredith F. Small
livescience's Human Nature Columnist
livescience.com –

Sat Jan 24, 9:25 am ETThe Americas were the last (well, second-to-last if you count Antarctica) continents to be inhabited by early humans. Archaeologists estimate that people entered North America by crossing over the Bering Strait, which back then was a wide swath of land, about 15,000 years ago.

In other words, people got here by walking a very long distance.

Our image of this major migration is fanciful. When I teach about the peopling of the Americas, I show a slide of people purposefully trekking in a straight line on a tundra from Siberia to Alaska, as if there was some destination on the other side and the only way to get there was to follow the leader, one behind the other.

But the truth is that human migration is much more complex, as suggested by genetic evidence presented recently by Ugo Perego and Alessandro Achilli of the Università di Pavia, Italy. Using mitochondrial DNA, they found two rare haplotypes (gene groupings) in modern Native Americans that point to two simultaneous ancestral migrations into this part of the world. One group took the fast track down the Pacific Coast to Tierra del Fuego (they may have used boats for part of the journey) and the other came across the Strait, maybe even with the coastal folks, and then took a sharp left turn past the ice sheet and spread out over inland North America.

But what compels people to walk that fast and that far into the unknown?

The most obvious reason is that one has to pack up and go because things are not so good at home. Long ago, that probably meant that the climate had changed and made life impossible. It might have become too hot or too cold or too wet, which in turn would have affected not only quality of life but also make survival a shaky proposition. Drought, flood, and temperature changes could certainly push people to move on.

Climate change also affects the food supply, and anthropologists have assumed that people came to the Americas because they were following food on the hoof. Humans are famous for wiping out big game as they go, so these early travelers might have been walking behind herds and not realizing they were covering new ground as they ate their way into the New World.

People also migrate when they are being chased. Back then, there weren't enough people to cause civil unrest, tribal warfare, or religious persecution, but there could have been conflicts over land use or hunting rights.

Or maybe, they came because they could. Humans seem to have a universal penchant for moving around, and not always under duress. These days, people sometimes move to have a new life in a new land, or just for fun. Sometimes they want a new view, an adventure, or they want to reinvent themselves.

Maybe the two major groups of people coming to the New World were looking for a new life and they found it beaching it to Tierra del Fuego or chasing the herds across the plains of Canada.

Source Article
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Sundaland

Sundaland
Posted by Paul Rodgers 28 May 2008 Print version Listen RSS Where do we come from? Paul Rodgers charts some of the latest work exploring the movement and development of humans based on DNA and the full mitochondrial genome

Where do we come from? It’s an abiding question, and one that has been only partially answered by science. While little doubt remains that our species evolved in East Africa, details of its spread around the world are still obscure. And the further back we peer, the harder it is to get a clear picture.

What evidence we have falls into three categories: physical remains, such as stone tools and cave paintings, can reveal the movement of technology and culture, but sometimes these spread not just as groups move, but between peoples. Linguistic studies, comparing modern languages to find their common roots, have the same problem. But genetics, looking at how minor mutations have spread through the world’s population, does not.

One of the more intriguing suggestions in the past decade is that the initial spread of humans from Africa extended along the southern coastline of Eurasia, to what is now Southeast Asia, then a subcontinent called Sundaland that was twice the size of modern India, stretching from Burma to Borneo. The flooding of this fertile paradise as the last Ice Age ended forced these people to adapt to new lifestyles, flee to new lands, or become extinct.

DNA research led by Leeds University’s Martin Richards, one of only two professors of archaeogenetics in the world, supports this idea, showing that the stone-age people on the southeastern shore of Sundaland expanded across the newly formed island chains 12,000 years ago.

The new theory, published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, is likely to draw bitter criticism from supporters of the old consensus, based on linguistics, that the area is populated today by descendants of a rice-growing people called the Austronesians who expanded from Taiwan just 4,000 years ago. “Some quite forceful archaeologists have been extremely reluctant to accept this,” says Professor Richards. “And I haven’t met a single linguist willing to give up the out-of-Taiwan argument.”

The Austronesians supposedly supplanted the indigenous hunter-gatherers, who first arrived 50,000 years ago yet were considered so insignificant that they have not even been named.

“That was a great mistake,” Professor Richards says. His team is the first to use the full mitochondrial genome rather than fragments, giving it a much more detailed picture of population movements in the distant past. Their results show that the biggest migration went not from Taiwan, but to it, and occurred much earlier.

“The radical explanation is that the linguists are wrong and that these people spread out during the last episode of post-glacial expansion,” he said. The Austronesians may have been like the Normans, a small elite group that arrived later and took control of a larger, indigenous population, he
suggests.

Sundaland was the biggest area to be drowned as the glaciers started to retreat 19,000 years ago, raising sea levels by more than 100 metres. The second largest, Doggerland, now the southern North Sea, was submerged towards the end of the Ice Age, separating the British Isles from continental Europe.

The people living in the southeast Asian subcontinent would have been particularly hard hit by three great sea level surges, 14,000, 11,500 and 7,600 years ago, believed to have been caused by catastrophic events as the ice sheets in North America and Antarctica retreated.

Professor Richards argues that many populations will have been wiped out as their land disappeared beneath the waves.

But one group could have been pre-adapted to the new environment, which had fewer inland plains and meandering riverbanks and twice as much coastline – the people of southeast Sundaland, who may have had a maritime culture linking them to the nearby Wallacean island group, named after the Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, which includes New Guinea.

What is certain is that, as sea levels rose, these people began to spread throughout the region, according to mitochondrial mutations, which are passed down from mother to child. A parallel study of stone-age tools by other members of the team supports the theory, showing the spread of a stone tool technology called “flake and blade” throughout the region.

Professor Richards hopes to do further work on the Sundaland population, and is already working on a study of y chromosomes, which are only passed down through the male line. Marine archaeology could also shed more light on the drowned culture, though there are no immediate plans to begin looking beneath the shallow waters of the Sundaland Shelf.

In the original version of this article it was suggested the idea that Europeans are descended from a group of people who settled in what is now Southeast Asia, then a subcontinent called Sundaland, was mooted by Dr Stephen Oppenheimer in his 1998 book Eden in the East. We fully accept that this was not the case and apologise to Dr Oppenheimer for the error.
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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Those Mayan Masochists

From The Times
January 13, 2009
The Maya suffered for their looks
Norman Hammond, Archaeology Correspondent


We may think we make sufficient sacrifices for our idea of beauty,
what with false eyelashes, body perforations supporting various bits
of metalwork from earrings to tongue studs, toupees and hair
extensions, Spanx and padded bras. The Ancient Maya went much farther,
however, reshaping their children’s skulls and inlaying their own
teeth with jade.


“The Maya went to extreme lengths to transform their bodies,”
Professor Mary Miller reports in the new year issue of Archaeology,
the US journal. “They invested vast wealth and endured unspeakable
pain to make themselves beautiful.”


As an example, Professor Miller cites K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, who ruled
the western Maya city of Palenque from AD615 to 683, and after his
death at the age of 80 was interred in a great carved sarcophagus
below the Temple of the Inscriptions. His skeleton shows that soon
after his birth, his head was strapped between two cradle-boards to
compress it from back to front, not unlike the crystal-skulled aliens
in the recent Indiana Jones film.


This left an indentation above his browline, which was emphasised by
an artificial nasal bridge, probably of clay or plaster, built up on
to his forehead. Although this does not survive in the burial, a
stucco portrait head found below the sarcophagus shows it clearly. The
head also shows that Pakal’s hair was cut in a series of bluntly
trimmed tresses, with longer strands on top flopping forward, which
Professor Miller interprets as imitating the leaves and corn silk on a
maize plant: at the site of Cacaxtla, Maya-style murals show maize
cobs on the plant as human heads. Pakal was shown as ever-youthful,
like the maize that springs up anew each year.


Pakal’s front teeth were filed into an inverted T-shape, marking him
as also being the Sun God, something shown on his jade burial mask as
well. For many Maya, notably those of the elite, dental decoration was
seen as highly desirable.


Teeth, especially the upper incisors and canines were filed and
notched in a variety of designs, giving in some cases a distinctly
crooked smile. Most striking, however, were the dental inlays: a
shallow hole was drilled into the front face of the tooth enamel
(using a reed or bone hollow drill and an abrasive such as sand or
jade dust), sometimes reaching the dentine within.


Small discs of jade, obsidian or haematite were then cemented into the
holes: the plant adhesive was so powerful that many burials found by
archaeologists today still have the inlays firmly in place. Up to
three discs were inserted into a single tooth, and jade and the other
materials were combined to give a flash of apple-green, dull red and
shiny black across the mouth; inlays and filing were also combined.
Dental decoration was probably applied as a rite of passage to
adulthood, according to Professor Stephen Houston, of Brown
University, Rhode Island.


The Maya also painted their bodies, in life and in death. Narrative
scenes on polychrome vases show pigments applied to face, chest and
buttocks. In death, Pakal’s corpse was treated with alternating layers
of red and black pigments, Professor Miller reports. Red to the Maya
was the colour of the sunrise, black of the sunset, alternating with
each other in the diurnal cycle.


Some facial designs are in the form of long strings of dots,
especially around the mouth, and when this is shown in sculpture or
vase-painting it may be intended to show tattooing rather than just
make-up. “Beauty was a way to display social, if not moral, value
among the ancient Maya,” Professor Miller concludes. “The wealth they
invested and pain they endured to create bodies that reflected their
social beliefs make our modern-day obsession with beauty seem less
excessive.”
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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Armenian cave yields ancient human brain

This Archaeological Institute of America meeting in Philadelphia is
emitting some very interesting articles. Armenia cave with winemaking
apparatus and items and seeds from other cultures from great
distances.

Armenian cave yields ancient human brain
Excavations have produced roughly 6,000-year-old relics of a poorly
known culture existing near the dawn of civilization
By Bruce Bower
Web edition : Monday, January 12th, 2009
font_down font_up Text Size


PHILADELPHIA — In a cave overlooking southeastern Armenia’s Arpa
River, just across the border from Iran, scientists have uncovered
what may be the oldest preserved human brain from an ancient society.
The cave also offers surprising new insights into the origins of
modern civilizations, such as evidence of a winemaking enterprise and
an array of culturally diverse pottery.


Excavations in and just outside of Areni-1 cave during 2007 and 2008
yielded an extensive array of Copper Age artifacts dating to between
6,200 and 5,900 years ago, reported Gregory Areshian of the University
of California, Los Angeles, January 11 at the annual meeting of the
Archaeological Institute of America. In eastern Europe and the Near
East, an area that encompasses much of southwest Asia, the Copper Age
ran from approximately 6,500 to 5,500 years ago.


The finds show that major cultural developments occurred during the
Copper Age in areas outside southern Iraq, which is traditionally
regarded as the cradle of civilization, Areshian noted. The new cave
discoveries move cultural activity in what’s now Armenia back by about
800 years.


“This is exciting work,” comments Rana Özbal of Bogazici University in
Istanbul, Turkey.


A basin two meters long installed inside the Armenian cave and
surrounded by large jars and the scattered remains of grape husks and
seeds apparently belonged to a large-scale winemaking operation.


Researchers also found a trio of Copper Age human skulls, each buried
in a separate niche inside the three-chambered, 600-square–meter cave.
The skulls belonged to 12- to 14-year-old girls, according to
anatomical analyses conducted independently by three biological
anthropologists. Fractures identified on two skulls indicate that the
girls were killed by blows from a club of some sort, probably in a
ritual ceremony, Areshian suggested.


Remarkably, one skull contained a shriveled but well-preserved brain.
“This is the oldest known human brain from the Old World,” Areshian
said. The Old World comprises Europe, Asia, Africa and surrounding
islands.


Scientists now studying the brain have noted preserved blood vessels
on its surface. Surviving red blood cells have been extracted from
those hardy vessels for analysis.


It’s unclear who frequented Areshi-1, where these people lived or how
big their settlements were. No trace of household activities has been
found in or outside the cave.


Whoever they were, these people participated in trade networks that
ran throughout the Near East, Areshian proposes. Copper Age pottery at
the site falls into four groups, only one of which represents a local
product. A group of painted ceramic items came from west-central Iran.
Some pots display a style typical of the Maikop culture from southern
Russia and southeastern Europe. Still other pieces were characteristic
of the Kura-Arax culture that flourished just west of Maikop territory
in Russia.


Radiocarbon dating of pottery and other Copper Age finds pushes back
the origins of the Maikop and Kura-Arax cultures by nearly 1,000
years, Areshian says.


Additional discoveries at Areni-1 include metal knives, seeds from
more than 30 types of fruit, remains of dozens of cereal species,
rope, cloth, straw, grass, reeds and dried grapes and prunes.


A hard, carbonate crust covering the Copper Age soil layers, along
with extreme dryness and stable temperatures inside the cave,
contributed to preservation of artifacts and, in particular, the young
girl’s brain.


Medieval ovens from the 12th to 14th centuries have also been
excavated at the cave’s entrance, underneath a rock shelter.


Areshian expects much more material to emerge from further excavations
at Areni-1 and from explorations of the many other caves bordering the
Arpa River. “One of these caves is much larger than Areni-1, covering
about an acre inside,” he said.
Source
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Armenian cave yields ancient human brain Options

This Archaeological Institute of America meeting in Philadelphia is
emitting some very interesting articles. Armenia cave with winemaking
apparatus and items and seeds from other cultures from great
distances.

Armenian cave yields ancient human brain
Excavations have produced roughly 6,000-year-old relics of a poorly
known culture existing near the dawn of civilization
By Bruce Bower
Web edition : Monday, January 12th, 2009
font_down font_up Text Size


PHILADELPHIA — In a cave overlooking southeastern Armenia’s Arpa
River, just across the border from Iran, scientists have uncovered
what may be the oldest preserved human brain from an ancient society.
The cave also offers surprising new insights into the origins of
modern civilizations, such as evidence of a winemaking enterprise and
an array of culturally diverse pottery.


Excavations in and just outside of Areni-1 cave during 2007 and 2008
yielded an extensive array of Copper Age artifacts dating to between
6,200 and 5,900 years ago, reported Gregory Areshian of the University
of California, Los Angeles, January 11 at the annual meeting of the
Archaeological Institute of America. In eastern Europe and the Near
East, an area that encompasses much of southwest Asia, the Copper Age
ran from approximately 6,500 to 5,500 years ago.


The finds show that major cultural developments occurred during the
Copper Age in areas outside southern Iraq, which is traditionally
regarded as the cradle of civilization, Areshian noted. The new cave
discoveries move cultural activity in what’s now Armenia back by about
800 years.


“This is exciting work,” comments Rana Özbal of Bogazici University in
Istanbul, Turkey.


A basin two meters long installed inside the Armenian cave and
surrounded by large jars and the scattered remains of grape husks and
seeds apparently belonged to a large-scale winemaking operation.


Researchers also found a trio of Copper Age human skulls, each buried
in a separate niche inside the three-chambered, 600-square–meter cave.
The skulls belonged to 12- to 14-year-old girls, according to
anatomical analyses conducted independently by three biological
anthropologists. Fractures identified on two skulls indicate that the
girls were killed by blows from a club of some sort, probably in a
ritual ceremony, Areshian suggested.


Remarkably, one skull contained a shriveled but well-preserved brain.
“This is the oldest known human brain from the Old World,” Areshian
said. The Old World comprises Europe, Asia, Africa and surrounding
islands.


Scientists now studying the brain have noted preserved blood vessels
on its surface. Surviving red blood cells have been extracted from
those hardy vessels for analysis.


It’s unclear who frequented Areshi-1, where these people lived or how
big their settlements were. No trace of household activities has been
found in or outside the cave.


Whoever they were, these people participated in trade networks that
ran throughout the Near East, Areshian proposes. Copper Age pottery at
the site falls into four groups, only one of which represents a local
product. A group of painted ceramic items came from west-central Iran.
Some pots display a style typical of the Maikop culture from southern
Russia and southeastern Europe. Still other pieces were characteristic
of the Kura-Arax culture that flourished just west of Maikop territory
in Russia.


Radiocarbon dating of pottery and other Copper Age finds pushes back
the origins of the Maikop and Kura-Arax cultures by nearly 1,000
years, Areshian says.


Additional discoveries at Areni-1 include metal knives, seeds from
more than 30 types of fruit, remains of dozens of cereal species,
rope, cloth, straw, grass, reeds and dried grapes and prunes.


A hard, carbonate crust covering the Copper Age soil layers, along
with extreme dryness and stable temperatures inside the cave,
contributed to preservation of artifacts and, in particular, the young
girl’s brain.


Medieval ovens from the 12th to 14th centuries have also been
excavated at the cave’s entrance, underneath a rock shelter.


Areshian expects much more material to emerge from further excavations
at Areni-1 and from explorations of the many other caves bordering the
Arpa River. “One of these caves is much larger than Areni-1, covering
about an acre inside,” he said.
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Thursday, January 8, 2009

First Americans arrived as 2 separate migrations

First Americans arrived as 2 separate migrations, according to new genetic evidence
Published: Thursday, January 8, 2009 - 13:14 in Paleontology & Archaeology
Learn more about: first americans genetic evidence migrations native american occupation northeast siberia paleo indians
The first people to arrive in America traveled as at least two separate groups to arrive in their new home at about the same time, according to new genetic evidence published online on January 8th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. After the Last Glacial Maximum some 15,000 to 17,000 years ago, one group entered North America from Beringia following the ice-free Pacific coastline, while another traversed an open land corridor between two ice sheets to arrive directly into the region east of the Rocky Mountains. (Beringia is the landmass that connected northeast Siberia to Alaska during the last ice age.) Those first Americans later gave rise to almost all modern Native American groups of North, Central, and South America, with the important exceptions of the Na-Dene and the Eskimos-Aleuts of northern North America, the researchers said.

" Recent data based on archeological evidence and environmental records suggest that humans entered the Americas from Beringia as early as 15,000 years ago, and the dispersal occurred along the deglaciated Pacific coastline," said Antonio Torroni of Università di Pavia, Italy. "Our study now reveals a novel alternative scenario: Two almost concomitant paths of migration, both from Beringia about 15,000 to 17,000 years ago, led to the dispersal of Paleo-Indians—the first Americans."

Such a dual origin for Paleo-Indians has major implications for all disciplines involved in Native American studies, he said. For instance, it implies that there is no compelling reason to presume that a single language family was carried along with the first migrants.

When Columbus reached the Americas in 1492, Native American occupation stretched from the Bering Strait to Tierra del Fuego, Torroni explained. Those native populations encompassed extraordinary linguistic and cultural diversity, which has fueled extensive debate among experts over their interrelationships and origins.

Recently, molecular genetics, together with archaeology and linguistics, has begun to provide some insights. In the new study, Ugo Perego and Alessandro Achilli of Torroni's team analyzed mitochondrial DNA from two rare haplogroups, meaning mitochondrial types that share a common maternal ancestor. Mitochondria are cellular components with their own DNA that allow scientists to trace ancestry and migration because they are passed on directly from mother to child over generations.

Their results show that the haplogroup called D4h3 spread from Beringia into the Americas along the Pacific coastal route, rapidly reaching Tierra del Fuego. The other haplogroup, X2a, spread at about the same time through the ice-free corridor between the Laurentide and Cordilleran Ice Sheets and remained restricted to North America.

" A dual origin for the first Americans is a striking novelty from the genetic point of view and makes plausible a scenario positing that within a rather short period of time, there may have been several entries into the Americas from a dynamically changing Beringian source," the researchers concluded.
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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Columbian Mammoth Info

Five things you might not know about ...
By Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico
November 21, 2008 - 9:26PM


Scientists are a decade or two away from recreating the extinct woolly
mammoth, according to a Pennsylvania State University researcher. The
Colombian mammoth, the southern cousin of the woolly mammoth, roamed
the eastern New Mexico plains up to 10,000 years ago.


Matt Hillsman, the curator of Eastern New Mexico University’s
Blackwater Draw Museum, said remains of the Colombian mammoth were
found at the Black Water Draw dig site.
• Hillsman said spearheads, called Clovis points, found with the
skeletal remains at the Blackwater Draw dig site confirm that the
Colombian mammoth was hunted by people who came to the plains about
11,000 to 13,000 years ago. The mammoth, which was hunted to
extinction in this area, was attacked while in drinking and bathing in
water.


• No one knows why mammoths are extinct. Hillsman said there are
several theories. But new research shows that there is evidence of
inbreeding in the mammoths DNA. Inbreeding limits genetic diversity,
Hillsman said.


• Two million years ago, mammoths separated into two groups and became
genetically distinct. One group went extinct 45,000 years ago. The
other group, which the Colombian mammoth was part of, went extinct
10,000 years ago.


• The largest of the mammoth species and also one of the largest
elephants to have ever lived, Colombian mammoths could consumed an
average of 300 pounds of a vegetation a day


• The Colombian mammoth migrated to the eastern plains because the
area was much cooler and wetter 10,000 years ago. Hillsman said there
was plentiful amounts of food and clean water for the mammoths.


Fast Facts


• Colombian mammoths had short gray hair similar to a modern elephant.


• They weighed up to nine tons and had tusks up to 16 feet long.


• The stood about 14-feet tall at the shoulders and were larger than
the woolly mammoth


• They ranged through the southern half of North American and south
into Mexico.


• They were herbivores, eating mainly grasses and other low growing
plants.


• Females lived in herds containing two to 20 individuals. Males left
the heard when they reached 12 to 15 years of age.


Source: www.bbc.co.uk


Matt Hillsman, the curator of Eastern New Mexico University’s
Blackwater Draw Museum, said he isn’t sure if recreating the mammoth
is a good idea, or if the animal would survive long.


“There are big questions ethically about resurrecting the mammoth,” he
said. “The ethical problem is would it survive?”


One difference he noted is the climate is much different than 10,000
years ago.


“We could recreate it, but I would hate to see them put it in the
zoo,” he said. “We’re in a time now where the climate is changing. It
was much colder when they lived.”


“But it would be exciting to see something that existed 10,000 years
ago.”


Hillsman studied archeology and anthropology to gain his master’s
degree at Eastern New Mexico University. Prior to that, he studied for
his undergraduate degree at Pennsylvania State University, where the
research mapping the mammoth’s DNA is taking place.


“It’s exciting that this kind of research is happening at my alma
mater,” he said.
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Rare artifacts from the late Stone Age have been uncovered in Russia.

Rare artifacts from the late Stone Age have been uncovered in Russia.

The site at Zaraysk, 150km south-east of Moscow, has yielded figurines and carvings on mammoth tusks.

The finds also included a cone-shaped object whose function, the authors report in the journal Antiquity, "remains a puzzle".

Such artistic artefacts have been found in the nearby regions of Kostenki and Avdeevo, but this is the first such discovery at Zaraysk.

The Upper Palaeolithic (roughly 10,000-40,000 years ago) is the period during which humans made the transition from functional tool-making to art and adornment.
This bison carved from mammoth ivory was found at Zaraysk in 2002

The new artefacts, discovered by Hizri Amirkhanov and Sergey Lev of the Russian Academy of Sciences, include a mammoth rib inscribed with what appear to be three mammoths, a small bone engraved with a cross-hatch pattern, and two human figurines presumed to be female.

"The finds enrich the inventory of Upper Palaeolithic [portable] art and broaden the known distribution of specific types of art objects in the East European Upper Palaeolithic," Dr Lev told BBC News.

"In terms of the splendour and variety of its art pieces, Zaraysk is on a par with such famous sites as Kostenki and Avdeevo."

'Unique picture'

The figurines are a type of "Venus" statuette, examples of which have been found in locations ranging from the mountains of Spain as far east as Siberia. However, their cultural significance remains a point of debate among anthropologists.

At Zaraysk, the two figurines were found carefully buried in storage pits. Underneath each was a round deposit of fine sand toward the south; toward the north, there was a deposit of red ochre - an iron-based pigment.

Each of the figurines had been covered with the shoulder-blade of a mammoth.

One is presumed to be finished and stands at a height of nearly 17cm (6.7in); the other is clearly unfinished and about half as big.
A bone fragment shows an "oblique cross" pattern of ornamentation

However, both resemble examples of such statuettes found at the Avdeevo site to the south-west, suggesting cultural links between the two.

"This collection of artefacts is spectacular in a number of ways, not only for the range of representations of both humanistic and animal but also for the range of materials that is used," says Jeffrey Brantingham, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

"These finds are really incredibly rare, and they offer a unique picture into human Upper Palaeolithic life."

Also among the finds was an object carved from mammoth ivory, shaped like a cone with its top removed. The cone is densely ornamented and has a hole running through its centre.

The authors note that the object is unique among Palaeolithic artefacts. "The function of this decorated object remains a puzzle," they say.




http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7758986.stm
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HSS 80 thousand years Older Than Previously Thought?

A new study of sophisticated stone tools found in Ethiopia has led scientists to suggest that modern humans may have evolved more than 80,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Washington, Dec 4 : A new study of sophisticated stone tools found in Ethiopia has led scientists to suggest that modern humans may have evolved more than 80,000 years earlier than previously thought.

The tools were uncovered in the 1970s at the archaeological site of Gademotta, in the Ethiopian Rift Valley.

But, it was not until this year that new dating techniques revealed the tools to be far older than the oldest known Homo sapien bones, which are around 195,000 years old.

According to a report in National Geographic News, using argon-argon dating, a technique that compares different isotopes of the element argon, researchers determined that the volcanic ash layers entombing the tools at Gademotta date back at least 276,000 years.

Many of the tools found are small blades, made using a technique that is thought to require complex cognitive abilities and nimble fingers, according to study co-author and Berkeley Geochronology Center director Paul Renne.

Some archaeologists believe that these tools and similar ones found elsewhere are associated with the emergence of the modern human species, Homo sapien.

"It seems that we were technologically more advanced at an earlier time that we had previously thought," said study co-author Leah Morgan, from the University of California, Berkeley.

Gademotta was an attractive place for people to settle, due to its close proximity to fresh water in Lake Ziway and access to a source of hard, black volcanic glass, known as obsidian.

"Due to its lack of crystalline structure, obsidian glass is one of the best raw materials to use for making tools," Morgan explained.

In many parts of the world, archaeologists see a leap around 300,000 years ago in Stone Age technology from the large and crude hand-axes and picks of the so-called Acheulean period to the more delicate and diverse points and blades of the Middle Stone Age.

At other sites in Ethiopia, such as Herto in the Afar region northeast of Gademotta, the transition does not occur until much later, around 160,000 years ago, according to argon dating.

This variety in dates supports the idea of a gradual transition in technology.

"The new date for Gademotta changes how we think about human evolution, because it shows how much more complicated the situation is than we previously thought," said Laura Basell, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford in the U.K. It is not possible to simply associate specific species with particular technologies and plot them in a line from archaic to modern," she added.

ANI

http://www.andhranews.net/Technology/2008/December/4-Modern-humans-77279.asp
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DNA Secrets: Cave's latrines yield new evidence about prehistoric

Another take on the Paisley Caves coprolites and the dating of the pre-
Clovis presence in North America. The reading of an obsidian flake and
a duck bone have been dated to 16,000 years ago, going back some
before the 14,000 years ago for the coprolites.





By Jeff Barnard


THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PAISLEY, Ore. -- For some 85 years, homesteaders, pot hunters and
archaeologists have been digging at Paisley Caves, a string of shallow
depressions washed out of an ancient lava flow by the waves of a lake
that comes and goes with the changing climate.


Until now, they have found nothing conclusive -- arrowheads, baskets,
animal bones and sandals made by people who lived thousands of years
ago on the shores of what was then a 40-mile-long lake, but is now a
sagebrush desert on the northern edge of the Great Basin.


But a few years ago, Dennis Jenkins, a University of Oregon
archaeologist, and his students started digging where no one had dug
before. What the team discovered in an alcove used as a latrine and
trash dump has elevated the caves to the site of the oldest
radiocarbon-dated human remains in North America.


Coprolites -- ancient feces -- were found to contain human DNA linked
directly to modern-day Native Americans with Asian roots and
radiocarbon dated to 14,300 years ago. That's 1,000 years before the
oldest stone points of the Clovis culture, which for much of the 20th
century was believed to represent the first people in North America.


The idea that coprolites contain valuable information is not new, but
extracting DNA from them is. When the findings were published this
year in the journal Science, they plopped Jenkins and his colleagues
in the middle of one of the hottest debates in North American
archaeology. Just when did people first come here, and how did they
get here?


For many years the prevailing view was that the Clovis people walked
from Siberia to Alaska across a land bridge exposed by the Ice Age and
spread south through an ice-free corridor down the center of the
continent exposed 10,000 years ago by warming temperatures.


The Paisley coprolites indicate that people had found another way,
perhaps crossing the land bridge but then walking down the coast, or
even crossing the ocean by boat, the way people went from New Guinea
to Australia thousands of years earlier. The findings kill the
suggestion that some of the earliest Americans came from Europe. And
they almost didn't get to tell their story.


Bill Cannon calls himself a "used archaeological site salesman," but
is really the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Lakeview District
archaeologist. Cannon knew that Luther Cressman, a University of
Oregon archaeologist, had dug here in the 1930s, as did numerous
looters.


Cannon can show you the rusty nail Cressman drove into the wall of
Cave No. 2 as his data point, from which the locations of artifacts
are measured, as well as recent illicit excavations.


Cressman found evidence -- a dart point, basketry, sandals and animal
bones -- that people were here before Clovis and that they hunted
large animals. But he could make no strong conclusions, and he saved
no coprolites.


Cannon could see that there was a lot that hadn't been dug, and
figured that Jenkins was the guy to do it.


Jenkins is a senior research associate at the University of Oregon
Museum of Natural and Cultural History and the head of its Northern
Great Basin Archaeological Field School. His office in a Quonset hut
on the campus in Eugene is decorated with the antlers of mule deer he
shot in the high desert east of the Cascade Range. His arm carries a
tattoo from a motorcycle club in Las Vegas, where he grew up and went
to college.


Jenkins has never found one of the distinctively shaped, fluted, stone
spear points that mark the Clovis culture, named for a site near
Clovis, N.M., uncovered in 1929. But in three digs at Paisley -- 2002,
2003 and 2007 -- Jenkins has gathered 700 coprolites, perhaps a third
of them human.


The coprolites contain pollen, seeds, chipmunk bones, sage grouse
feathers, trout scales, things that ancient people would have been
eating, but Jenkins couldn't be sure that they weren't coyote. He had
estimated their age at 1,000 years before Clovis from dating bone and
obsidian flakes found nearby.


Unlike bone, obsidian cannot be radiocarbon dated. But the time since
a flake was broken off can be estimated from how far moisture has
penetrated, leaving a visible band. The distance depends on
temperature, so to refine the measurements, archaeological consultant
Tom Origer and his team from Santa Rosa, Calif., tracked the
underground temperatures for a year.


At $600 a shot, Jenkins still didn't want to get any of the coprolites
radiocarbon dated until he knew they were human.


Then in the fall of 2003, he received an unexpected e-mail from Alan
Cooper of Oxford University, who was looking for sites to test with
techniques he was developing to extract ancient DNA from soils.


Cooper and Jenkins arranged for Eske Willerslev, then a Danish
postdoctoral fellow working for Cooper at Oxford, to deliver a paper
on his work with ancient DNA before the Northwest Anthropological
Conference. They also wanted Willerslev to pick up some samples from
Paisley Caves.


In 2003, Willerslev extracted from Siberian permafrost DNA of
mammoths, bison and mosses that proved to be 300,000 to 400,000 years
old. More recently, he teased out DNA from silt-crusted ice cores from
Greenland that showed forests, beetles and butterflies had lived
800,000 years ago where a glacier stands today.


Willerslev took home 14 coprolites, though he was not very interested.


"To identify if humans were using caves as a toilet, I didn't see that
as important," he said.


For years, they sat in a freezer at Oxford. Willerslev took them with
him when he took a professorship in biology at the University of
Copenhagen, and in 2006 turned them over to a graduate student who
needed a project. She found DNA from two of the five Native American
genetic groups. Both have links to Asia.


Radiocarbon dating -- at two different labs -- showed three were more
than 14,000 years old.


"It is the oldest evidence of human presence" in North America, said
Willerslev, now director of the Center for Ancient Genetics at the
Copenhagen school.


Vance Haynes, a professor emeritus of geoarchaeology at the University
of Arizona, has spent his career studying the Clovis people.


While there is a growing body of evidence and acceptance of the idea
that people were in North America before Clovis, the evidence remains
skimpy and confusing, with no coherent thread like a common way of
flaking obsidian into spear points, he said.


He would like to see dates further confirmed by another radiocarbon
dating because if it is accurate, the find offers important evidence
that early people traveled down the coast as they spread through the
continent, and then moved east, and did not need the ice-free
corridor.


Jenkins figures that the caves have much more to tell. An obsidian
flake and a duck bone have been dated to 16,000 years ago. And he
can't wait to dig beneath some boulders that apparently fell from the
roofs of the caves between 7,000 and 9,000 years ago, guarding
whatever lies below from looters and other archaeologists.


When Jenkins returns, probably next spring, the diggers will be
dressed like technicians in a silicon-chip plant with face masks,
latex gloves and bunny suits to reduce the chances of contamination,
making it possible to analyze the DNA with greater resolution. The
coprolites could reveal how many individuals lived in the caves at any
one time, how many were men and how many women, how closely they were
related, and even what time of year they were there.


"It raises the hair on the back of my neck to think what they
destroyed and had no clue," Jenkins said of those who dug before him.
"In the process of digging this to get artifacts, they throw out
coprolites that had so much information in them."


http://www2.journalnow.com/content/2008/dec/04/dna-secrets
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Mystery Pyramid Built by Newfound Ancient Culture?

Mystery Pyramid Built by Newfound Ancient Culture? Alexis Okeowo in México City
for National Geographic News

December 8, 2008
Several stone sculptures recently found in central Mexico point to a previously unknown culture that likely built a mysterious pyramid in the region, archaeologists say.

Archaeologists first found the objects about 15 years ago in the valley of Tulancingo, a major canyon that drops off into Mexico's Gulf Coast. (See Mexico map.)





RELATED
Ancient Tomb Found in Mexico Reveals Mass Child Sacrifice (June 12, 2007)
Ancient Pyramid Found at Mexico City Christian Site (April 6, 2004)

PHOTOS: "Mexico's Pyramid of Death" in National Geographic Magazine (October 2006)
Most of the 41 artifacts "do not fit into any of the known cultures of the Valley of Tulancingo, or the highlands of central Mexico," said Carlos Hernández, an archaeologist at Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History in the central state of Hidalgo.

Many of the figures are depicted in a sitting position, with their hands placed on their knees.

Some have headdresses or conical hats with snakes at the base, which could represent Ehécatl-Quetzalcóatl, the Aztec god of the wind. One figure shows a man emerging from the jaws of a jaguar.

The sculptures are also made of flat stucco—a combination of fine sand, lime, and water—and painted blue or green to the give the appearance of jade.

All of the artifacts date to the Epiclassic period between A.D. 600 to 900.

Some Mexican and foreign archaeologists have said the sculptures weren't ancient and thus false, Hernández said.

"But by linking all the characteristics that make them different, [such as their location in Tulancingo and time period], allows us to say that they should be considered as a product of a different culture [called Huajomulco]."

The culture is named after an area in Hidalgo.

Baffling Pyramid

RELATED
Ancient Tomb Found in Mexico Reveals Mass Child Sacrifice (June 12, 2007)
Ancient Pyramid Found at Mexico City Christian Site (April 6, 2004)
MORE...
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TURKEY: ANCIENT PAGAN TEMPLE SITE YIELDS NEW ARCHEOLOGICAL CLUES ON

Eurasia Insight:
TURKEY: ANCIENT PAGAN TEMPLE SITE YIELDS NEW ARCHEOLOGICAL CLUES ON
ORIGINS OF FARMING
Nicholas Birch: 12/09/08


It's the last day of the excavating year at Gobekli Tepe, the hill-top
neolithic site whose circles of huge decorated T-shaped stones are at
least 5,000 years older than any other monumental structure ever
found.


Workmen have already buried the bases of the stones in rubble to
protect them from the winter rain. Now they are laying raised walkways
into the centre of a site that was previously off-limits to visitors.


In between shouted instructions, the German archaeologist who has been
excavating the site since 1994 sums up four more months of digging.
"This is not like an ordinary excavation, uncovering a wall here and
the corner of a house there," Klaus Schmidt says, standing at the
highest point of a 15-metre high artificial mound that covers nine
hectares.


"In 14 years, we have uncovered barely five percent of what is here.
There are decades of work ahead."


Apart from a new transverse cut to the left of the main dig, and the
excavation of a small, late circle that probably dates from about
8,500 B.C., little appears to have changed since March. [For
background see the Eurasia Insight archive].


But there have been striking discoveries: a U-shaped stone sculpted
with leopards and a boar that Schmidt compares to the Lion Gate at
Mycenae; two almost life-size sculptures of a boar and wild cat found
embedded within the rubble walls surrounding one early enclosure.


Schmidt and his team have also uncovered a hollowed-out stone, roughly
four-foot square, lying cracked in the middle of one of the circles.


"We found similar stones in other enclosures, and we assumed they are
some sort of door", Schmidt says. "The position of this one makes us
wonder whether the circles weren't vaulted," like the trulli of
southern Italy, or the famous bee-hive houses at Harran, just south of
Gobekli Tepe.


Potentially much more significant, although almost invisible to the
untrained eye, archaeologists have also uncovered evidence that the
builders of at least one of the oldest circles had dug roughly five
meters down through the mound before erecting the standing stones on
the bedrock.


"For the time being this is just hypothesis, but this leaves us
wondering whether the site dates back to before [c. 9500 b.c.], when
the earliest circles were built," Schmidt says. "Piling up a five-
meter mound is not the work of one night."


Whatever the carbon-dating eventually shows, Gobekli Tepe stands at
the cusp of what is arguably the biggest social revolution in human
history - the transformation of semi-nomadic hunters into settled
farmers.


Archaeologists now know a great deal about the whens and wheres of the
birth of agriculture.


DNA tests on wild wheat growing on Karacadag, a mountain just east of
Gobeklitepe, suggest it may have been the source of early cultivated
strains. At Nevali Cori, a neolithic village 40 miles northwest of
Schmidt's site, archaeologists found seeds of domesticated einkorn
wheat dating from 9000 b.c.


But debate still rages - and probably always will - about what it was
that led neolithic groups to transfer almost all their energies into
farming.


For many experts, climate change was behind the transformation. Global
temperatures had been warming gradually since the last Ice Age.
Between 10,800 and 9,500 b.c., they suddenly plummeted again.


The Greenland ice cap cooled by roughly 15 degrees. Rain stopped
falling on the Fertile Crescent. "The region where grasses could be
cultivated shrank to the very upper edges of the Middle East, northern
Syria and southeastern Turkey," says Ofer Bar-Yosef, MacCurdy
Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at Harvard and a doyen of
paleolithic studies.


"Even there, resources were limited - people wanted to keep them for
themselves."


But the location, age and sheer size of Gobekli Tepe have led some to
posit a radically different explanation for the change. "The intense
cultivation of wild wheat may have first occurred to supply sufficient
food to the hunter-gatherers who quarried 7-ton blocks of limestone
with flint flakes," writes Stephen Mithen, Professor of Archaeology at
the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom.


The move to farming may "have been driven as much by ideology as by
the need to cope with environmental stress."


Klaus Schmidt appears in two minds about the theory. In a book he
wrote in German about Gobekli Tepe, he suggests that "temples came
first, and cities followed." Sipping sugary tea outside a portakabin
at the entrance to the site, he is more circumspect.


"There is no doubt this was a place of huge feasts, and hunter-
gatherers would have had difficulty gathering together enough food to
feed large groups," he says. "Some American colleagues say such feasts
may have been the origin of domestication."


His caution stems from growing evidence uncovered over the last five
years or so that domestication was a much longer process than
previously believed.


Experts now think farmers probably sowed grain for at least a thousand
years before domesticated strains appeared. In 2004, French
archaeologists showed how neolithic settlers had corralled wild cattle
in southern Turkey before transporting them to Cyprus.


Professor Bar-Yosef has had his doubts about the theory of ideological
farmers since the start. "First you need to get your economy working,"
he says. "Then you build the monuments that justify the complex social
organization that requires."


Complex, he adds, can sometimes mean unjust. "You can't build places
like Gobekli with kibbutzim," he says. "I wouldn't be surprised if
somebody somewhere in the Fertile Crescent finds evidence of slave
labour in the near future."
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Late Neandertals and Modern Human Contact in Southeastern Iberia

Late Neandertals and Modern Human Contact in Southeastern Iberia


Description
It is widely accepted that Upper Paleolithic early modern humans
spread westward across Europe about 42,000 years ago, variably
displacing and absorbing Neandertal populations in the process.
However, Middle Paleolithic, presumably Neandertal, assemblages
persisted for another 8,000 years in Iberia. It has been unclear
whether these late Middle Paleolithic Iberian assemblages were made by
Neandertals, and what the nature of those humans might have been. New
research, published Dec. 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences, is now shedding some light on what were probably the last
Neandertals.


Image Gallery
Erik Trinkaus
Lower jaw of a Palomas fossil.
Click image to view fullsize


Newswise — It is widely accepted that Upper Paleolithic early modern
humans spread westward across Europe about 42,000 years ago, variably
displacing and absorbing Neandertal populations in the process.


However, Middle Paleolithic, presumably Neandertal, assemblages
persisted for another 8,000 years in Iberia. It has been unclear
whether these late Middle Paleolithic Iberian assemblages were made by
Neandertals, and what the nature of those humans might have been.


New research, published Dec. 8 in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, is now shedding some light on what were probably
the last Neandertals.


The research is based on a study of human fossils found during the
past decade at the Sima de la Palomas, Murcia, Spain by Michael
Walker, professor at Universidad de Murcia, and colleagues, and
published by Michael Walker, Erik Trinkaus, professor of Anthropology
at Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues.


The human fossils from the upper levels of the Sima de las Palomas are
anatomically clearly Neandertals, and they are now securely dated to
40,000 years ago. They therefore establish the late persistence of
Neandertals in this southwestern cul-de-sac of Europe. This reinforces
the conclusion that the Neandertals were not merely swept away by
advancing modern humans. The behavioral differences between these
human groups must have been more subtle than the Middle-to-Upper
Paleolithic technological contrasts might imply.


In addition, the Palomas Neandertals variably exhibit a series of
modern human features rare or absent in earlier Neandertals. Either
they were evolving on their own towards the modern human pattern, or
more likely, they had contact with early modern humans around the
Pyrenees. If the latter, it implies that the persistence of the Middle
Paleolithic in Iberia was a matter of choice, and not cultural
retardation.


From the Sima de las Palomas, other late Neandertal sites, and recent
discoveries of the earliest modern humans across Europe, a complex
picture is emerging of shifting contact between behaviorally similar,
if culturally and biologically different, human populations. We are
coming to see them all more as people, flexibly making a living
through the changing human and natural landscapes of the Late
Pleistocene.


http://www.newswise
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Did Noah's Flood start in the Carmel?

Did Noah's Flood start in the Carmel?
Dec. 10, 2008
Etgar Lefkovits , THE JERUSALEM POST


A deluge that swept the Land of Israel more than 7,000 years ago,
submerging six Neolithic villages opposite the Carmel Mountains, is
the origin of the biblical flood of Noah, a British marine
archeologist said Tuesday.


The new theory about the source of the great flood detailed in the
Book of Genesis comes amid continuing controversy among scholars over
whether the inundation of the Black Sea more than seven millennia ago
was the biblical flood.


In the theory posited by British marine archeologist Dr. Sean Kingsley
and published in the Bulletin of the Anglo-Israeli Archaeological
Society, the drowning of the Carmel Mountains villages - which include
houses, temples, graves, water wells, workshops and stone tools - is
by far "the most compelling" archeological evidence exposed to date
for Noah's flood.


"What's more convincing scientifically, a flood in the Black Sea, so
far away from Israel and the fantasy of a supposed ark marooned on the
slopes of Mount Ararat, or six submerged Neolithic villages smack-bang
in the middle of the Bible Land?" Kingsley said in a telephone
interview with The Jerusalem Post.


He added that the site, which has been excavated by Israeli
archeologist Dr. Ehud Galili over the last quarter-century, offers a
"pretty convincing cocktail of coincidences," including submerged
layers of villages in a critical location, and one that was known for
its nautical revolution.


But Galili rejected Kingsley's theory, saying Tuesday that it could
not be true.


"Based on our archeological finds, the village was not abandoned due
to a catastrophic event, but due to the slow rise of sea levels which
occurred all over the world," he said. "The pace of the increase in
the sea level was very slow, so that it would not be significant
enough for people to remember it in the course of their lifetime."


Galili noted that, following the major tsunami that hit Asia, there
was a scientific trend in the world to hunt for mega-disasters that
happened in the past.


"We did not find any proofs which indicate that a tsunami or other
such catastrophe flooded the villages, even though there are proofs
that a tsunami did occur in the Mediterranean Sea," he said.


Kingsley, a self-declared atheist, said he had begun studying the
origins of Noah's flood five years ago as a result of his interest
into "how mythologies came into existence," as well as a desire to
connect the biblical story with global warming.


The alternate theory that the inundation of the Black Sea around 5,600
BCE was the source of the biblical flood is called into question by
the fact that no villages, houses, cemeteries or graves have ever been
found under its waves, Kingsley said.


Scholars agree the Black Sea flooded when rising world sea levels
caused the Mediterranean to burst over land, turning the freshwater
lake into a saltwater sea. The flood was so monstrous that it raised
water levels by 155 meters and submerged up to 150,000 square
kilometers of land.


But scholars are divided on when the flood occurred, and how rapidly.
Most believe it took place about 9,000 years ago and was gradual.


The date of the massive flooding on the Carmel Coast, which Kingsley
estimates to have taken place between the sixth and fifth millennia
BCE, is another unknown.


"The precise timing of this localized flooding is still being worked
out, but there is no doubt that the villages of the Carmel were lost
not to earthquakes or tectonic movements but to killer waves,"
Kingsley said.


The lost villages cluster opposite the Carmel Mountains in depths of
12 meters. Atlit-Yam, 10 meters south of Haifa, is the largest
submerged Neolithic village in the Mediterranean Sea.


Kingsley's theory about the origin of Noah's flood, an independent
archeologist said, is interesting but dubious.


"Whether or not one can make a direct link between the biblical story
and the submerged Neolithic sites is doubtful," said Prof. Shimon
Gibson, an archeologist with the University of North Carolina at
Charlotte. "But it does show that episodes of substantial flooding did
occur in these parts of the world and that that kind of fear would
have existed within the cultural conscientiousness [sic] of ancient
peoples.


"The bottom line," he concluded, "is that overall evidence of [a]
world submerged in flood does not exist."
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Of Neanderthals and dairy farmers

Of Neanderthals and dairy farmers
Archaeologists, historians, linguists, nutritionists come together in
symposium to explore Earth’s past


By Alvin Powell


Harvard News Office


Harvard Archaeology Professor Noreen Tuross sought to rehabilitate the
image of Neanderthals as meat-eating brutes last week, presenting
evidence that, though they almost certainly ate red meat, Neanderthal
diets also consisted of other foods — like escargot.


Evidence from Neanderthal bones collected from the Shanidar cave in
Northern Iraq decades ago and analyzed recently by Tuross indicate
that at least that particular Neanderthal was not a heavy carnivore.
Neanderthals, she suggested, had a varied diet that included meat, but
that was not solely or even largely made up of it. One possible
alternative food was found in abundance in the cave, she said: land
snails.


“This was not a heavy meat-eater,” Tuross said. “So what else can they
be eating? I think the answer is escargot.”


Tuross, the Landon T. Clay Professor of Scientific Archaeology, was
just one expert in disciplines ranging from anthropology to history to
genetics attending a day-long symposium Friday (Dec. 5) that aimed to
bridge divides between traditional fields in order to shed more light
on the human past.


The event, “The Science of the Human Past,” was sponsored by the
Harvard Provost’s Office and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard,
and was organized by the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past
at Harvard University.


Michael McCormick, the Francis Goelet Professor of Medieval History,
said the symposium grew out of a series of workshops he organized
three years ago after he received the Mellon Distinguished Achievement
Award. McCormick said he decided to use the award money to bring
together scientists and humanists who would not otherwise meet, to see
if they could learn from one another’s data and methods. The meetings
were so successful that McCormick and several colleagues, including
Nick Patterson, David Reich, and Stuart Shieber, organized the
symposium. They had expected about 50 people to attend, but the event
drew more than 170.


“It’s really been remarkable,” McCormick said.


In addition to Tuross’ talk, the agenda included presentations on the
Neanderthal Genome Project, the impact of sex-based evolutionary
forces on the human genome, humans and the extinction of the
megafauna, mathematical modeling of contact between linguistic groups,
and the origins of dairy farming.


Tuross praised the effort to unify scholars in different disciplines
who are seeking answers to similar questions.


Tuross’ attempt to show the Neanderthal’s dietary diversity comes on
the heels of studies that examined the concentration of a type of
nitrogen atom that increases in animals as they feed up the food
chain. One study showed that Neanderthals living in Vindija Cave in
Croatia had higher concentrations of this atom than even top
predators, leading researchers to conclude that Neanderthals were
heavy meat eaters.


Tuross questioned that conclusion, however, saying that scientists
don’t know why that particular nitrogen isotope concentrates in
predators, making it possible that other mechanisms are at work. In
addition, she said, studies of Neanderthals on Gibraltar showed they
had a varied diet, as do modern humans, who are among the most
omnivorous animals on earth.


“Humans are promiscuous in our omnivory. We can eat almost anything
and do eat almost anything, in prodigious quantities,” Tuross said.


The evolutionary forces that split humans from Neanderthals hundreds
of thousands of years ago didn’t go away after the break. Mark Thomas,
of University College, London, presented evidence about one of the
strongest forces that has driven human evolution in Europe over the
past 20,000 years: milk.


Thomas’ research showed that a gene variant for “lactase
persistence” (LP) that allows humans to digest milk into adulthood —
uncommon in most adult animals and in many human societies — swept
across Europe sometime in the last 20,000 years.


To spread so rapidly, Thomas said, the gene must have conveyed an
extraordinary survival advantage to those possessing it. Though
science has not yet identified the specific advantages at play in
early Europe, there are several potential candidates. Among them is
that milk provides a ready source of calories, protein, calcium, and
fat, particularly during the winter or during crop boom-and-bust
cycles. It also provides an uncontaminated source of fluids, perhaps
lessening illness and parasitic infections; and obtaining it may be a
more economical use of lands than farming.


“In Europeans, this is probably the most strongly selected part of the
genome in the last 20,000 years,” Thomas said.


Thomas found that the gene variant coincided well with the rise of
animal domestication, indicating that humans became dairy farmers
almost as soon as they began to keep animals.


To track the gene’s spread across Europe, Thomas designed a computer
model that took into account both archaeological and genetic data. He
then ran multiple simulations, randomly changing other variables and
looking for patterns that matched what is known today.


The closest matches pegged the rise of milk-drinking Europeans to
about 7,400 years ago in central Europe. The spread matched the known
rapid spread of Europe’s first farmers, the Linearbandkeramik culture.


“The spread of the LP variation was shaped by selection and by an
underlying demographic process, the spread of farming,” Thomas said.
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Handles For Stone Age Tools!!

Tools with handles even more ancient
New finds move back the origins of Stone Age tools that were attached
to handles with adhesive material
By Bruce Bower
Web edition : 1:21 pm
font_down font_up Text Size


In a gripping instance of Stone Age survival, Neandertals used a
tarlike substance to fasten sharpened stones to handles as early as
70,000 years ago, a new study suggests.


Stone points and sharpened flakes unearthed in Syria since 2000
contain the residue of bitumen — a natural, adhesive substance — on
spots where the implements would have been secured to handles of some
type, according to a team led by archaeologist Eric Boëda of
University of Paris X, Nanterre. The process of attaching a tool to a
handle is known as hafting. The Neandertals likely found the bitumen
in nearby tar sands, the team reports.


Stone tools of the type found at the Syrian site are typically
attributed to Neandertals. These evolutionary cousins of modern humans
frequently used bitumen and other tars as an adhesive for hafting and
perhaps sometimes as a sleeve to protect a tool user’s hand, the
researchers propose in the December Antiquity.


The new age of 70,000 years ago places the practice earlier than a
previous finding in 1996 by Boëda’s team of 40,000-year-old stone
artifacts unearthed at the same location, Umm el Tlel. Those artifacts
also contained remnants of bitumen (SN: 4/13/96, p. 235).


“The surprising thing, to me, is that we do not find more such
evidence for hafting by Neandertals,” remarks archaeologist John Shea
of Stony Brook University in New York. Hafting may have been too time-
consuming for Neandertals in some resource-poor locales, Shea
hypothesizes, because their large bodies dictated that they forage
constantly for food. Neandertals living at Umm el Tlel 70,000 years
ago apparently had time for hafting, using bitumen to construct
hunting spears, in his view.


Neandertals and modern humans inherited the intellectual abilities
needed for hafting from a common ancestor that lived more than 200,000
years ago, Shea speculates.


Following an analysis of microscopic wear on 90,000-year-old stone
artifacts from an early Homo sapiens site in Israel, Shea reported in
2007 that some stone points had probably been attached to hand-cast
spears with an unidentified adhesive. Also in 2007, archaeologist
Marlize Lombard of Natal Museum in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa,
reported that modern humans living in southern Africa around 60,000
years ago hafted stone points using an adhesive made from a mix of
resin and ground pigment.


In 2006, Italian researchers found two sharpened stones, dating to
more than 100,000 years ago, that Neandertals had apparently attached
to handles using birch-bark tar. The tar-stained stones lay among the
bones of an animal that belonged to a now-extinct elephant species.


In the new study, Boëda’s team identified black stains on 200 out of
more than 1,000 stone implements excavated from several related
sediment layers at Umm el Tlel. Seven pieces of burned flint found in
those newly excavated layers were dated to 70,000 years ago using a
method that measured the radiation dose that had accumulated since the
artifacts had been heated.


Black residue on stone tools clung to areas that had been grasped by
hand or attached to handles, the researchers note. Geochemical
analyses revealed a close correspondence between bits of residue
extracted from three artifacts and bitumen collected from tar sands
located 40 kilometers from the Syrian site.


A closer investigation showed that the ancient residue and modern
bitumen shared nearly identical chemical compositions.


The researchers then made an adhesive out of bitumen mixed with quartz
and gypsum and applied it in various amounts to 10 experimentally
produced stone implements. After drying, the mixture displayed
microscopic features much like those of residue on the Umm el Tlel
artifacts, the scientists say.


http://www.archaeologynews.org/story.asp?ID=361964&Title=Tools%20with...


and


Volume: 82 Number: 318 Page: 853–861


Middle Palaeolithic bitumen use at Umm el Tlel around 70,000 BP


Eric Boëda1, Stéphanie Bonilauri1, Jacques Connan2, Dan Jarvie3,
Norbert Mercier4, Mark Tobey5, Hélène Valladas6, Heba al Sakhel7 and
Sultan Muhesen8


1Département d'Ethnologie et de Préhistoire, CNRS, UMR 7041, ArScAn,
équipe AnTET, Maison de l'Archéologie et de l'Ethnologie, Université
de Paris X- Nanterre, 21 allée de l'Université, 92023 Nanterre, France
(Email: eric.bo...@wanadoo.fr; stephanie.bonila...@wanadoo.fr)
2Laboratoire de Biogéochimie Moléculaire, CNRS, UMR 7177, Université
Louis Pasteur, 25 rue Becquerel, 67200-Strasbourg, France (Email:
connan.jacq...@orange.fr) 3Worldwide Geochemistry, LLC, P.O. Box 789,
Humble, Texas 77347, USA (Email: danjar...@wwgeochem.com) 4Institut de
Recherche sur les Archéomatériaux, CNRS, UMR 5060, Centre de Recherche
en Physique Appliquée à l'Archéologie (CRP2A), Maison de
l'Archéologie, Université de Bordeaux, 33607-Pessac Cedex, France
(Email: Norbert.Merc...@u-bordeaux3.fr) 5Encana Oil & Gas, USA Inc.,
370 17th St., Suite 1700, Denver, CO 80303, USA (Email: Mark.Tobey@
encana.com) 6Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement,
LSCE/IPS, UMR CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Centre des faibles Radioactivités,
Laboratoire mixte CNRS-CEA, avenue de la Terrasse, 91198-Gif-sur-
Yvette Cedex, France (Email: helene.valla...@lsce.ipsl.fr) 7Musée
National de Damas, Ministère de la Culture, Direction générale des
Antiquités et des Musées, Shoukry al-Qouwatly St., Damas, Syrie
(Email: h.alsak...@ifporient.org) 8Département d'Archéologie,
Université de Damas, Damas, Syrie (Email: sultanmuhese...@hotmail.com)


The authors identify natural bitumen on stone implements dating to
70,000 BP. It is proposed that this represents residue from hafting,
taking the practice back a further 30,000 years from the date
previously noted and published in Nature. The bitumen was tracked to a
source 40km away, using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and
carbon isotopes.


Keywords: Near East, Djebel Bichri, Mousterian, bitumen, micro-traces,
hafting, microscopic techniques, geochemical analysis, stable isotope,
absolute dating, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry


© 2008 Antiquity Publications
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Ossabaw Island Find

An excavation of a Woodland period burial (1000 BCE-350 CE) on Ossabaw
Island along Georgia's coast has revealed cremated remains. The
internment reveals something about the kinds of belief involving death
during the Woodland period. Similar cremations have been found on St.
Catherine's Island. Native Americans in the area had moved to the
coast in the winter for shellfish and inland in the spring for deer
hunting and to the uplands in the fall to gather nuts.


The burial pit was lined with wood and oyster shells. The body was
placed on top of the wood and then burned. The body looks like it was
reburied elsewhere later. There has been a radar survey and charcoal
carbon-14 analysis will be done. Shell mounds at the site date back to
2000 BCE and 230 sites have been found on the island.


The Daily Citizen has the story here;


http://www.northwestgeorgia.com/statenews/local_story_352144343.html


A tiny URL;
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Men Dominated Out Of Africa Exodus?

Ancient African Exodus Mostly Involved Men, Geneticists Find

Description
Modern humans left Africa over 60,000 years ago in a migration that
many believe was responsible for nearly all of the human population
that exist outside Africa today.


Newswise — Modern humans left Africa over 60,000 years ago in a
migration that many believe was responsible for nearly all of the
human population that exist outside Africa today.


Now, researchers have revealed that men and women weren’t equal
partners in that exodus. By tracing variations in the X chromosome and
in the non-sex chromosomes, the researchers found evidence that men
probably outnumbered women in that migration. The scientists expect
that their method of comparing X chromosomes with the other non-gender
specific chromosomes will be a powerful tool for future historical and
anthropological studies, since it can illuminate differences in female
and male populations that were inaccessible to previous methods.


While the researchers cannot say for sure why more men than women
participated in the dispersion from Africa—or how natural selection
might also contribute to these genetic patterns—the study’s lead
author, Alon Keinan, notes that these findings are “in line with what
anthropologists have taught us about hunter-gatherer populations, in
which short distance migration is primarily by women and long distance
migration primarily by men.”


These findings are published in Nature Genetics.
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Caribbean hallucinogenic bowls discovery

By Stéphan Reebs, Natural History Magazine


Inhaling bowls — shallow vessels with two adjacent spouts — are artifacts found on many Caribbean islands. Early Amerindians probably used them to snort hallucinogens, liquid or powdered, through the nose.

Now ponder this. Three inhaling bowls unearthed on the island of Carriacou, near Grenada in the Antilles, were made around 400 B.C., according to an analysis of radioactive isotopes conducted by Scott M. Fitzpatrick of North Carolina State University in Raleigh and several colleagues. Yet Carriacou was first settled 800 years later, around A.D. 400. Moreover, one of the bowls was found among archaeological deposits dating from about A.D. 1000. And the mineral content of the bowls indicates that they probably weren’t manufactured on Carriacou.

So the bowls must have come from another island — one possibility is Puerto Rico, 465 miles away, where other bowls of similar antiquity have been discovered. And they must have been kept around for at least eight, if not 14 centuries.

What could account for such endurance? The bowls were not buried in the manner of ritual offerings. Fitzpatrick thinks they were probably passed on from generation to generation as useful or treasured heirlooms.

The findings were detailed in the Journal of Archaeological Science.


http://www.livescience.com/culture/081223-nhm-family-artifacts.html
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Bigfoot 2008 Recap

Posted on Sun, Dec. 28, 2008
On Bigfoot's trail
By JOHN HOLLAND
jholl...@modbee.com

last updated: December 28, 2008 06:00:00 AM
Kathy Moskowitz Strain has written a book, ‘Giants, Cannibals, and
Monsters: Bigfoot in Native Culture,’ and gives lectures about the
subject. Strain has many American Indian baskets and a wood sculpture
of bigfoot at her Jamestown home. (Debbie Noda/The Modesto Bee) - -


In her day job as an archaeologist, Kathy Moskowitz Strain looks for
traces of people who dwelt long ago in the Stanislaus National Forest.


At night and on weekends, she searches for something else: Bigfoot.


The legendary creature has fascinated Strain since she was a girl. The
40-year-old Jamestown resident has looked for Bigfoot evidence in
Tuolumne County and beyond, and she has documented sightings by other
people.


"Footprints, plus the traditional Native American stories about
Bigfoot, have convinced me that something is out there," she said.


Strain has spoken at Bigfoot conferences around the country and
appeared on "MonsterQuest" on the History Channel.


She has just written a book that combines her interests in Bigfoot and
Native Americans. The book, "Giants, Cannibals & Monsters: Bigfoot in
Native Culture," has more than 150 stories from the Arctic to Florida.


Strain, a Porterville native, has bachelor's and master's degrees from
California State University, Bakersfield. She is married to Bob
Strain, a retired Folsom firefighter, and has two sons, Zackary, 16,
and Jacob, 11.


Q: How did you get interested in Bigfoot?


A: When I was a little girl, I saw "Legend of Boggy Creek" (a 1972
film) and became fascinated with the mystery. I later asked my teacher
what I would have to do to study Bigfoot for a living, and she
suggested anthropology, so that is what I did. However, I quickly
learned that I couldn't study Bigfoot for a living, so I work for the
Forest Service by day and search for Bigfoot on my free time.


Q. What kinds of sightings have you documented?


A: I have interviewed hundreds of witnesses about their experiences of
seeing either a Bigfoot or his large footprints in the woods. The
sightings have ranged from up-close experiences to those that took
place several hundred yards away. My favorite sightings are those that
describe Bigfoot looking for food.


Q: Have you seen Bigfoot yourself?


A: I have never seen a Bigfoot myself, but my husband has.


Q:. How do you look for Bigfoot?


A: During the day, we spend a good deal of time driving the dirt
forest roads, looking for footprints or other items of interest. We do
a lot of mapping, taking notes and taking videos and photos of the
location. Often, we stop at the local stores and see if anything
unusual has been reported. After nightfall, we build a large fire and
cook a fragrant dinner. We usually begin call blasting (recorded
Bigfoot-like sounds) starting at 8 or 9 and blast on the hour, every
hour. Throughout the evening, we conduct our experiments and record
the responses.


Q: How many Bigfoots might there be in Tuolumne County and North
America?


A: Some researchers have estimated as much as 2,000 throughout North
America, and I would guess that is pretty close. In Tuolumne County,
I'm guessing, there may be as many as 10 to 15.


Q: Describe your job for the forest.


A: I am the heritage resource and tribal relations program manager.
The heritage part of the job deals with the forestwide management of
prehistoric, ethnographic and historic sites. Under tribal relations,
my job is to make sure that the forest is upholding our trust
responsibilities with our local tribes and native people.


Q: Does your Bigfoot work ever intersect with your forest job?


A: I don't "Bigfoot" on government time, but being an archaeologist/
anthropologist has helped me apply scientific methods and tools to my
Bigfoot studies. It also allows me to interact with Native Americans
and record their traditional cultural beliefs of this animal.


Q: Do people take your research seriously?


A: I think so. Most of the time, people will ask me lots of questions
and are interested in where the best place to go to see one is.


Q: Why are people fascinated by Bigfoot?


A: I think in today's society, with so much technology and pressures
on our time, it's nice to think that there is still something left out
there for us to discover -- something still wild and free.


http://www.modbee.com/life/friendsfamily/v-print/story/546192.html
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